'COAS, not PM, decides how US-Pak ties shape up'.

WASHINGTON -- Former prime minAister Imran Khan's return to power - or not - will not have much impact on the future of US-Pakistan relations as such decisions in IslamAabad are taken by the army chief, not the prime minister.

This view was expressed at a Monday evening seminar in the US capital.

'I don't think the future of US-Pakistan relations hinges on who will be the PM in Pakistan... more important is who will be the chief of army staff,' said Lisa Curtis, who looked after South and Central Asian affairs at the Trump White House, adding it was the army that controlled decision-making on issues important to the US, such as the nuclear programme, Pakistan's relations with India, and counter-terrorism.

But Ms Curtis also said this kind of hybrid democracy would not be good for Pakistan as it's 'an inherently unstable form of government'.

Trump-era official says should Imran return to power, there will be 'effort to make amends with Washington'

When asked how Mr Khan's return to power could influence the US-Pakistan relations, she said: 'Even though Imran Khan very unhelpfully used the US as a scapegoat when he lost power, were he to be reelected, there will be a certain amount of pragmatism that might become part of the equation.' She believed there would be 'an effort to make amends with Washington'.

Douglas London, a former CIA operative and analyst; Javid Ahmad, a former Afghan ambassador to the UAE; and Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's former ambassador to Washington also participated in the discussion. Marvin Weinbaum, director of Pakistan/Afghanistan Studies at the Middle East Institute (MEI), Washington, moderated the session hosted by his institute.

Both Ms Curtis and Mr Haqqani believed Pakistan and the US were not as close as when America was still in Afghanistan. Ms Curtis said the US wanted to ensure Pakistan did not get closer to China and that negative views about Islamabad regarding Afghanistan still prevailed. The US, she added, 'wants Pakistan to support it in Ukraine'.

Mr London noted that tensions between the two countries had reduced since the...

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