US Offers FTA To Pak For Help Get Out Of Afghan Quagmire

ISLAMABAD — The US may offer Pakistan a free trade agreement (FTA) in return for its assistance in ending the Afghan war, a media report said on Thursday.

Dawn reported from Washington that official sources said that US Senator Lindsey Graham, who visited Islamabad this week, is believed to have discussed this idea with Pakistani leaders.

Graham first proposed offering an FTA to Pakistan, after a recent visit to Afghanistan.

“If we can go to Pakistan and put a free trade agreement on the table to get the Pakistanis to push the Taliban to the peace table, and you can end the Afghan war,” he said.

Graham, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is considered President Trump’s closest ally in Congress and the US media say that the president often uses him to float ideas that he wants debated publicly.

Before leaving for Islamabad last week, Senator Graham is believed to have said in close official circles that he would discuss his FTA proposal with Pakistani leaders and also explore the possibility of arranging the Pakistani prime minister’s visit to Washington.

Graham indicated that this was not just his proposal as people in the White House also wanted to explore both possibilities.

The US has long complained Pakistan provides sanctuaries to the leadership of the Afghan Taliban. It has also long claimed Islamabad could do more to bring the Taliban to the table for negotiations.  

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