Pakistan will no longer be America’s "hired gun" to fights its wars, Imran Khan has said.
After trading barbs with Donald Trump in recent weeks, Pakistan’s prime minister said he still wanted to be friends with the superpower, but wanted a broader relationship beyond security cooperation.
The former cricketer told the Washington Post that Pakistan was growing closer to China because the US “has basically pushed Pakistan away”.
Mr Trump last month launched a tirade against Pakistan accusing the country of duplicity and “not doing a damn thing to help us” despite billions of dollars of military assistance.
Mr Khan said: “I would never want to have a relationship where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun — given money to fight someone else’s war.
“We should never put ourselves in this position again. It not only cost us human lives, devastation of our tribal areas, but it also cost us our dignity. We would like a proper relationship with the US.”
Mr Khan disclosed earlier this week that the White House had written to him seeking help to bring peace to Afghanistan as part of Mr Trump’s push to jump start negotiations.
American officials have long accused Pakistan of harbouring Taliban leaders and want the country to use its influence on the militants to bring them to the negotiating table.
Mr Khan said a precipitous American withdrawal from Afghanistan would lead to a repeat of the chaos of the 1990s.
“The last thing we want is to have chaos in Afghanistan. There should be a settlement this time,” he said.
American envoys have met Taliban negotiators in the Gulf this year, but the militants still refuse to talk to Ashraf Ghani’s government. The government’s grip on the country continues to slip and its forces are suffering such high casualties that US commanders believe they are not sustainable.
Mr Khan’s statements followed Thursday’s announcement that Pakistan was expelling 18 international charities – a move that comes amid growing paranoia that Western aid agencies are being used as a front for espionage.
The organisations include Saferworld, Plan International and International Alert, which are all based in the UK, as well as American and European groups.
Another 20 are at risk of expulsion amid a growing crackdown on international organisations operating in the country.
Shireen Mazari, the country’s human rights minister, said on Twitter the 18 groups were responsible for spreading disinformation. "They must leave. They need to work within their stated intent which these 18 didn’t do," she said.
Pakistan and its security forces are still stinging from a 2011 covert operation that involved a Pakistani doctor, an aid group and a vaccination scam to identify Osama bin Laden’s home.
The raid soured relations between Pakistan and the US, with Islamabad complaining that it was never notified of the plan.