US-Pakistan ties under Imran Khan start off on wrong foot, make new PM’s path harder

Hamza Ameer
Hamza AmeerAug 25, 2018 | 10:37

US-Pakistan ties under Imran Khan start off on wrong foot, make new PM’s path harder

Washington and Islamabad have different versions of the conversation between Khan and US Secretary of State.

Ties between Pakistan and the United States have been at a historic low ever since the Trump administration announced its policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan last year, and, in January this year, accused Pakistan of “lies” and “duplicity” in the war on terror.

While the new prime minister, Imran Khan, has spoken of desiring better relations with Washington and other countries, the very first step towards the betterment of ties seems to have been hit with confusion and cross-claims between Islamabad and Washington.


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is supposed to visit Pakistan in September.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is supposed to visit Pakistan in September. (Photo: AP)

It all started with a telephonic call between PM Imran Khan and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo had called Khan to congratulate him on taking office as the country’s Prime Minister.

“They had a good call. That may surprise some of you, but they had a good call. Pakistan is an important partner to the United States. We hope to forge a good, productive working relationship with the new civilian government,” said US State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert.

The State Department also added that the Pompeo urged decisive action by Pakistan against terrorist groups operating on Pakistani soil.

However, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) completely rejected the statement, calling it “factually incorrect”.

Dr. Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson of MOFA maintained: “Pakistan takes exception to the factually incorrect statement issued by US State Department on today’s phone call between PM Khan and Secretary Pompeo. There are no mentions at all in the conversation about terrorists operating in Pakistan. This should be corrected immediately.” 


The strong rejection by the MOFA, however, failed to prompt a correction from the US State Department. “We stand by our readout. Pompeo had expressed his willingness to work with the new government toward a productive bilateral relationship,” Nauert said.

The controversy holds great importance, as it is the first formal contact between the US and Pakistan after the new government in Islamabad has taken office.

The issue becomes even more critical as Mike Pompeo is expected to land in Islamabad during the first week of September, during which high-level meetings will take place, including a meeting with PM Imran Khan.

It is pertinent to mention that the Trump administration has taken some stern steps against Pakistan in relation to the military aid it provides to the country, along with suspending the coveted military training programme for Islamabad.

The US has also raised serious reservations on Pakistan seeking a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which it fears will be used to pay off Islamabad’s debts to China.

The Imran Khan administration has got a daunting task at hand when it comes to healing the fractured ties with Washington. The start has definitely not been smooth.  


Last updated: August 26, 2018 | 14:41
Please log in
I agree with DailyO's privacy policy