In the 2018 General Elections of Pakistan held yesterday, Imran Khan has emerged as the new leader with his party winning some 115 seats in the Parliament.

What is his stance on the US and the relationship between Pakistan and the US? Is he pro-US, anti-US, or somewhere in the middle?

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    Welcome to Politics Stack Exchange. You might notice that I rewrote your question a bit, because we generally don't answer questions about predicting future events.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 10:36

1 Answer 1


Imran Khan, like many of his countrymen and party members, is not an admirer of the US.

Since your question is exclusively about Imran Khan's views, not that of his party leaders, I will stick to those.

Imran Khan understands the value of the US-Pakistan relationship but he wants to change the dynamics of it where they would work more in the favor of Pakistani state instead of the US. At the same time, he absolutely disagrees with the US policies of the past in War on Terrorism and those concerning Pakistan exclusively.

Last month, he said that improving US-Pakistan relations is important but he also criticised Donald Trump for claiming that Pakistan is responsible for US failure in Afghanistan.

Same month, he gave an interview to the BBC where he was asked about his views on US Pakistan relations, his reply was:

Let me make it clear, Pakistan has to be friends with America. US is a super power. But where most of us felt deeply hurt is where Donald Trump blamed Pakistan for the failure of United States in Afghanistan. We felt that here was a country that was being made a scapegoat, a country that had 70,000 people killed fighting a US War. We had a 100 billion USD lost to the economy because General Musharraf took us into a war that was not our war. I opposed it. And at the end, the humiliation, I mean to be made a scapegoat for their failure in Afghanistan.

When Zainab Badawi, BBC host, asked him directly if he was Anti-American, he replied with a Question of his own.

"I criticize Pakistani Government and her policies. Does that make me anti-Pakistan?"

Almost two weeks ago he said:

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has said that his party is not against any country, but is against the US policy in the war on terror. “PTI does not want to have bad relations with any country.”

Speaking to the media at Karachi airport on Wednesday, the party chief said that he had been against the US’ war on terror since day one and is still against it. “If we want to win this war against terrorism, then we should come out of the US war.”

He said the PTI is neither “pro nor against the US. It takes a position based on its policies. Thus, PTI has consistently opposed American war in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s partnership in it. Events have proved the party stand to be correct.”

Just six days ago, he gave another interview where he claimed that US used Pakistan and the relations have always been one-sided.

Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan said on Friday that the United States of America used Pakistan as a triggerman and the bilateral relations have remained always one-sided.

The same week he said:

Pakistan could not carry on by severing ties with the United States.

Just one our ago, he was live on National Media to outline his domestic and foreign policies as unofficial Prime Minister Elect. He again reiterated his position that he wants to end the unilateral relations between the two countries and instead promote a mutually beneficial working relationship with special emphasis to Afghanistan and Middle East. Most importantly, he was very much pro-China in his speech, in contrast to the US.

Bear in mind however, many influential leaders of his party are very much anti-US. Some like Shirin Mazari have even proclaimed that any Pakistani who likes the US is a traitor.

The mistrust is not one-sided. DW asked the US State Department if they would work with Mr. Khan in case he becomes the PM, American reply was diplomatic:

"The US government supports a free and fair vote by the Pakistani people, and stands ready to partner with the leadership they choose to work on a shared agenda for regional peace and prosperity,"

Experts of South Asian affairs at Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars were more explicit in their analysis:

"For the US, the idea of a Prime Minister Imran Khan may be unsettling, given how he and his party have been stridently anti-American in tone and messaging in ways that the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League of former PM Nawaz Sharif) have not been," Michael Kugelman, an expert of South Asian affairs at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington, told DW.

So in conclusion:

  1. Imran Khan is neutral regarding the US.
  2. He wants to redefine the dynamics of the relationship between the two nations.
  3. He wants to get out of the American-led War on Terror and fight/negotiate alone.
  4. He doesn't want to make an enemy out of the US nor is he essentially against the Americans.
  5. He is decisively pro-China which might cause troubles with the US even if it is not his intent. He is also pro-Iran but like all his predecessors, he likes to keep a balance between Iran and KSA.
  • He rose to power on anti-Americanism. It's quite a stretch to declare him "neutral." He defines the Pakistan-US relationship in which his nation is “not an ally, but a slave”. He supported cutting a deal with the Pakistani Taliban. He saw the US's killing of Osama Bin Laden as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty. Those aren't the words of someone "neutral" on the US.
    – C. Helling
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 15:34
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    @C.Helling As I noted, a lot of his followers, Party members and leaders are decisively anti-American. He however doesn't consider himself Anti-American. Yes he supported cutting deals with Taliban but as he says in his interviews, That now the US is trying to do the same. His description of US-Pak relations as of now is not entirely off the mark either. I am not sure about OBL killing, can you cite a source so that I could understand the statement with context?
    – NSNoob
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 8:51

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