PM Khan says resolving Mumbai attacks’ case in Pakistan’s interest

Special PM Khan says resolving Mumbai attacks’ case in Pakistan’s interest
Imran Khan. (AP)
Updated 08 December 2018

PM Khan says resolving Mumbai attacks’ case in Pakistan’s interest

PM Khan says resolving Mumbai attacks’ case in Pakistan’s interest
  • Hopes peace talks will resume after 2019 Indian election
  • Says US has “pushed Pakistan away”

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said resolving a case pending in a Pakistani court against the planners of the 2008 Mumbai attacks was in the country’s own interests, adding that he had asked his government to follow up on the status of the trial. 
Speaking in an interview to the Washington Post published on Friday, Khan, who swept to power in July, said he hoped talks with archival India would resume after the 2019 general election in the neighboring country. 
“We also want something done about the bombers of Mumbai,” Khan said in his first foreign interview as prime minister. “Resolving that case is in our interest because it was an act of terrorism.”
It has been ten years since 166 people were killed by 10 gunmen who laid a three-day siege on India’s financial hub of Mumbai. 
India has blamed militants linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group for the attack and said the gunmen, all but one of whom were killed in the assault, were Pakistani. Islamabad denies any state involvement.
Though proceedings were launched by Pakistan against seven suspects, the trial has been slow and shrouded in secrecy. 
“I have asked our government to find out the status of the case,” Khan said. 
Resumption of talks between the nuclear-armed neighbors has been stalled for years over the disputed region of Kashmir, claimed by both countries and ruled in part by each. Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over the valley since their separation in 1947.
“India has elections coming up. The ruling party has an anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan approach. They rebuffed all my overtures,” Khan said, referring to his attempts to kickstart talks and India’s move to call off a meeting between the countries’ foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this September. “Let’s hope that after the election is over, we can again resume talks with India,” Khan added. 
The prime minister denied US claims of militant sanctuaries in Pakistan, saying 80,000 Pakistanis were killed in the war on terror and over $150 billion lost in the economy. 
“We have time and time again asked the Americans, ‘Can you tell us where the sanctuaries are, and we will go after them,’” Khan said. “There are no sanctuaries in Pakistan.”
Speaking about a negotiated settlement to the 17-lear-long war in neighboring Afghanistan, Khan said the last thing Pakistan wanted was “chaos” in Afghanistan, adding that the country would “try our best” to bring the Taliban to the table for talks.
“Putting pressure on the Taliban is easier said than done,” he said. “Bear in mind that about 40 percent of Afghanistan is now out of the government’s hands.” 
Commenting on his vision for Pakistan’s relationship with the United States, the prime minister said he did not want Pakistan to be treated like a “hired gun — given money to fight someone else’s war.”
In a veiled reference to a decision this year by the US to cancel $300 million in aid over Islamabad’s perceived failure to take decisive action against militants, Khan said the US had “pushed Pakistan away.”
“We would like a proper relationship with the US,” he said. “For instance, our relationship with China is not one-dimensional. It’s a trade relationship between two countries. We want a similar relationship with the US”
The prime minister would not divulge how much aid Pakistan had received from China, and the UAE, following recent visits by Khan aimed at seeking rescue packages to help avert a balance of payments crisis. He said the governments of the two countries wanted the figures to be kept confidential. 
In October, Pakistan received a $6 billion rescue package from Saudi Arabia and is in talks with the International Monetary Fund to secure what will be the country’s 13th rescue package from the multilateral lender since the late 1980s.
“Pakistan has never made the structural changes that are needed. Now we have embarked on structural reforms,” Khan said. “If we go with the IMF, we will make sure this is the last time.”