Trump writes letter to PM Imran, seeks assistance in Afghan peace process

The Foreign Office said the US decision was welcomed as Pakistan had always advocated a political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan

Hamid Mir

ISLAMABAD: US President Donald Trump has written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking Pakistan’s assistance in the Afghan peace process, it was revealed on Monday.

Prime Minister Imran, in a meeting with TV anchors and reporters in the federal capital, informed that he received a letter from the US president earlier today. In the letter, Trump has asked Pakistan to play its role in Afghan peace talks which are aimed at catalysing an end to the 17-year invasion of Afghanistan by US troops.

The prime minister said Trump had sought Pakistan’s assistance in bringing the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table.

“We will try to make the Afghan Taliban engage in dialogue with the US,” the prime minister replied when asked about the way forward following Trump’s letter. 

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trump in the letter stated that his most important regional priority was achieving a negotiated settlement of the Afghan war and in this regard, the US president sought Pakistan’s support and facilitation.

President Trump also acknowledged that the war had cost both the US and Pakistan. He emphasized that Pakistan and the US should explore opportunities to work together and renew their partnership.

The Foreign Office said the US decision was welcomed as Pakistan had always advocated a political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan. “Pakistan reiterates its commitment to play a facilitation role in good faith. Peace and stability in Afghanistan remains a shared responsibility,” the Foreign Office stated. 

The letter comes days after the US president launched another tirade at Pakistan, alleging that the country "would take our money and do nothing for us."

"....We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!" Trump had tweeted on November 19. 

Prime Minister Imran, in a series of tweets, had fired back at the US leader, saying the record needed to be "put straight". 

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed to Reuters that Trump had written the letter. 

Prime Minister Imran told journalists that previously, Pakistan had been apologetic in its relations with the United States but his government has dealt with the country on equal terms. 

He assured that Pakistan would play any role possible for peace in Afghanistan. 

Pakistan was among the countries that met in Geneva, Switzerland on November 27, 2018 on Afghan reforms and peace prospects in the region. During the two-day conference, Afghan leaders and international diplomats evaluated whether strategies and aid offered to Afghanistan were helping resolve the quagmire created by the prolonged war, paving way for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

'Kartarpur corridor not a googly'

When asked to comment on the recent war of words between Pakistan and India foreign ministers stemming from Sushma Swaraj’s response to Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s ‘googly’ statement, Prime Minister Imran said that Islamabad is sincere in establishing peaceful ties with New Delhi.

Pakistan foiled India's plan to instigate hatred, the premier said, adding that the Kartarpur corridor opening was not a 'googly' or a 'double game' but a straightforward decision.

The prime minister further said that Pakistan remains committed to resolution of the Kashmir dispute. 

'Considering mechanism on currency devaluation'

Prime Minister Imran said in the meeting that a mechanism is being considered to ensure the central bank doesn’t devalue the currency without taking the government into confidence.

The State Bank of Pakistan did not inform the government when it devalued the rupee last week, and before that, the premier revealed. He added that he found out about the latest devaluation from television reports. 

On November 30, the rupee hit an all-time record low of Rs144 against the US dollar, plunging almost five percent after what appeared to be a sixth devaluation by the central bank in the past year as the country struggles with an acute balance of payment crisis. 

The rupee has depreciated by 36 per cent against the dollar over the past 12 months.