Pakistan PM Khan hopes to take over Afghan peace talks but faces souring relations with India

US President Donald Trump will meet with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan

Photo: AP/PTI

US President Donald Trump will meet with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly today. The two leaders are expected to address a range of bilateral issues, from trade disputes to potential defence deals.

However, Taliban peace talks in Afghanistan will likely be today’s focus. When peace talks between the Taliban and the US fell through, Khan pledged that his government would try to revive them. Trump abruptly cancelled secret talks with the Taliban at the Camp David retreat in US, which were planned for September 8, and has since stated that the talks are “dead”.

To date, Pakistan has been an important part of the peace process, using a mix of diplomacy and arm-twisting to bring Taliban leadership to the negotiating table. Khan hopes reviving the peace process will improve relations with the US, which cancelled some $300 million in aid in September 2018 over claims Pakistan was not doing enough to combat militants in the Afghan border region.

Any peace settlement would strengthen Khan’s persona as a regional builder of peace and security, likely strengthening his position in the ongoing territorial dispute with India over the Kashmir region and perhaps even convincing the US to see his stance on the conflict in a more favourable light.