Trump to push Pakistan PM Imran Khan for permanent Taliban ceasefire

Margaret Talev Bloomberg

President Donald Trump will push Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, to pressure the Taliban into signing a permanent ceasefire in Afghanistan, an administration official said.

Trump will also demand that Pakistan’s government free Shakil Afridi, a physician imprisoned after helping the U.S. government locate and kill Osama bin Laden, the official said. The Trump administration will judge Pakistan in part on its treatment of Afridi, the official said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

The president is scheduled to meet with Khan at the White House on Monday.

The U.S. opened a new round of talks with the Taliban last month aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan that began after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The talks between the U.S. and Taliban have taken on greater urgency as Afghanistan heads for presidential elections on September 28. It’s not clear whether the militant group will agree to participate in the elections after a possible peace deal. The Taliban had suggested forming an interim government following a deal but the idea was refused by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The administration official said the talks are at a critical juncture and Trump expects Pakistan to use its full leverage with the Taliban. Much of the group’s leadership is believed to be located in semi-autonomous areas on Pakistan’s side of the border with Afghanistan.

Trump suspended security aid for Pakistan in January 2018, alleging the country’s government doesn’t do enough to combat terrorist groups. The official said that aid would only be restored if Pakistan satisfies U.S. concerns about its support for both the Taliban and groups alleged to have engaged in terrorism in India.