India will keep a close watch on the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the US, especially his maiden meeting with President Donald Trump on 22 July, coming as it does in the midst of prolonged Indo-Pak tensions following the Pulwama terror attack.
Sources in New Delhi said India would obviously be interested to know what Khan has to tell President Trump on India-Pakistan ties, the ‘half-hearted’ attempts by Pakistan to crack down on terror outfits in view of the international pressure and the Afghan imbroglio.
The primary objective of Khan’s visit to the US is to mend fences with the Trump administration and to attract American investments in Pakistan which is grappling with an unprecedented economic situation.
India is not impressed with the steps taken by Pakistan like the arrest of JuD chief and Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and the closure of some terror camps on the eve of Khan’s visit to Washington. “We have seen this drama taking place eight times since 2001. The question is whether this will be more than a cosmetic exercise (this time around),” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on the arrest of Saeed.
The bickering between India and Pakistan has only escalated after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on a death row in Pakistan on the charges of terrorism and espionage, be given consular access. New Delhi says Pakistan was under an obligation to immediately grant consular access to the Indian national.
Sources said India has regularly been briefing the American side on how Pakistan continued to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy against India. It has also been pointed out to Washington that Pakistan might have taken sincere steps in dealing with the terror groups active within the country or in the areas bordering Afghanistan but it has only kept encouraging anti-India groups, particularly those operating in Jammu and Kashmir.
The discussion on Afghanistan, where the 18-year-old conflict shows no signs of coming to an early end, will be of critical importance to India. Pakistan has suddenly become important for global powers on the Afghan issue because of the influence it enjoys over the Taliban. Islamabad recently facilitated peace talks between the Taliban and key players like the US, Russia and China on the Afghan issue in Qatar.
India has, however, made it clear to the stake-holders in Afghanistan that any peace process must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and acceptable to the Afghan regime.
Khan, meanwhile, has expressed his desire to stay at Pakistan ambassador’s official residence in Washington instead of an expensive hotel during his visit to the US as part of the austerity drive undertaken by him in the wake of struggling economy of the country. He is also travelling to the US by a Qatar Airway flight and not the official plane of Pakistan Prime Minister.