Imran Khan will visit the United States on July 20 for the first time since taking charge as Pakistan Prime Minister on August 18 of 2018. While relations between the two counties had been deteoriating by then, they have nosedived in the months since Imran came to power. Now, the cricketer-turned-politician is hoping that he can inject a fresh breath of life into bilateral relations with the US despite a very noticeable shift in proximity towards China.
Pakistan's close ties with China has been one of several points of friction which has hurt its ties with the US. US and China have had an intense rivalry over the past several years and are seen competing in various spheres - trade, military and geopolitical arenas being the primary of them all. As such, Islamabad's closeness to Beijing, security analysts say, has raised alarm bells in the US. Pakistan remains largely crucial for US operations in Afghanistan but its volatile politics and vulnerable economy has meant Washington understands Islamabad may not be a dependable ally it had hoped for.
Another massive thorn in the flesh is Pakistan's continued support to terrorist organisations like the Haqqani Network. US President Donald Trump has time and again lashed out, and often publicly, against Pakistan taking American dollars meant to fight terror with and using it to fund terror instead. It is also a charge that New Delhi has maintained over the past many years - that American aid given to Pakistan to combat terror is used against India. And while Indo-US relations remain as robust as ever, Pakistan has been largely unable to provide any satisfactory explanation for its ways.
The US has also stood firmly against any bailout package for Pakistan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and has said that the money, if given, would only be used to repay loans from China.
Indeed, China, terror and a fractured economy are three major sticking points in contemporary US-Pakistan relations but Imran would be hoping to put things back on track. He is expected to discuss the issue of US talks with the Afghan Taliban when he meets Trump on July 22. Pakistan's The Nation has also reported that Imran will rake up Kashmir issue on his US visit even though India maintains that it is a bilateral matter and that no peace talks can exist till such time that Islamabad shelters and shields terrorists.
Overall, Imran would be hoping he can somehow restore the trust and faith both countries had in each other once upon a time. "The focus will be to refresh the bilateral relationship," Pakistan's Foreign Office had said previously on the upcoming visit. Many, however, are not looking at the visit with much hope as it has long been suspected that Imran does not have much say on his own and the policies of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is dictated by the country's army and secret service agency.