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‘Dumped like a dog by almost everyone,’ is Steve Bannon still influencing the White House?

Steve Bannon (right), watches as President Donald Trump (left) speaks on the phone with Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, in the Oval Office on January 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. Photo: VCG
"Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!" This is how US President Donald Trump mocked his fired White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in a tweet on January 6, 2018.

It is hard to believe that this "dumped dog" was one of Trump's "best pupils" during his election campaign. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, also Trump's former campaign chief who spread Trump's anti-immigrant and nationalist calls leading up to the US general election, has now made attacking China his new business after being dumped by Trump.

In 2019, Bannon intensified his assault on China with even more hysterical right-wing opinions.

Steve Bannon told the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based newspaper, that the executive order signed by US President Donald Trump banning Huawei from the US market and cutting off vital components is "10 times more important than walking away from the trade deal." 

On May 6, he published an article in the Washington Post vilifying and inciting his country to confront China.

"Steve Bannon has now added a new project to his portfolio - one designed, like all Bannon projects, to harness the worst in a situation to make it even worse. Lately, he has been focusing on an adversary that troubles those on both the left and right: China. But Bannon's aim is hardly to reduce tensions between the US and China; he means to ratchet up the trade war," according to the American Prospect, an American political and public policy magazine.

The "China threat theory" has fermented rapidly in the Trump era, and this can be partly attributed to the profound influence Steve Bannon had on the US president. Although Bannon left the White House in 2017, there are no fundamental differences between Bannon and Trump in terms of governance philosophy and China policy, and he still has access to the White House to influence its China policy decisions, said Chinese experts.

Residual power

In May, Bannon claimed in his Washington Post article that the goal of the Communist Party of China is "to be the global hegemonic power," and asserted China "has been waging economic war against industrial democracies."

Bannon maliciously smeared China by saying that it is a "rapidly militarizing totalitarian state imprisoning millions in work camps," and "the world is a house divided, half slave, half free." Washington and Beijing are "facing off to tip the scales in one direction or the other," he wrote.

Bannon focused his fire just at a time when pressure is growing on China-US relations. But how can Bannon stir up a new wave of anti-China rhetoric in Washington after being kicked out of the White House? It could be because his personnel deployment strategy in the White House is still working. 

Bannon has had his fingerprints all over the address since he served as the White House Chief Strategist: he wrote Trump's inaugural address, prompted Trump to nominate conservative justices to the Supreme Court, and was reportedly an important part of Trump's controversial "Muslim ban."

"A new chapter of American greatness is now beginning," Trump said at one point. "A new national pride is sweeping across our nation." That sort of rhetoric is right out of Bannon's world and evidence of just how much influence Bannon has over Trump, said the Washington Post on March 1, 2017.

Bannon grabbed a place in the White House National Security Council in January 2017 when it was being reshuffled. The Council has had an unwritten rule for years: no standing seats for officials with strong political views. Bannon is not only politically radical but also has little experience in foreign and national security decision-making. 

But this move made him more influential than most other cabinet officials. He used his power to promote to the White House a host of middle-ranking right-wing officials who shared his values.

Steve Bannon lost his National Security Council seat in April amid fears that the circle of US intelligence chiefs was being politicized. 

Although Bannon has been personally sidelined by Trump, most of his followers remain in their posts, building on their radical ideas.

Kiron Skinner, the director of policy planning at the US Department of State, said in public earlier in May that the growing competition with China is "the first time we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian," drawing criticism for her racial characterization of the conflict, according to South China Morning Post.

This showed that some officials like Skinner had largely embraced Bannon's ultra-conservative right-wing views.

Anti-China clique

After leaving the White House, Bannon is still actively expanding his media network, maintaining close contact with many hosts from Fox News, the main platform for American right-wing conservatives, as well as making frequent appearances for various far-right organizations.

A widely anticipated debate between Liu Xin of China Global Television Network (CGTN) and Trish Regan of the Fox Business Network in the US drew global attention in May. What many people don't know is that Bannon was also behind this debate.

On May 22, Liu Xin strongly refuted Regan's remarks on the US-initiated "economic war" against China in a short video commentary. The next day, Trish responded to Liu in her show, then invited Bannon to appear on it.

Bannon said that China's personal attacks on him showed it was "in a state of hysteria." Bannon stated that President Trump has fully understood that Beijing has been "running an economic war against the industrial democracies now for 20 years," reported CNBC. Bannon goes to great lengths to describe how "jittery" China is. 

After this show, Regan offered to have a debate with Liu Xin.

In addition to keeping a close eye on China issues in Fox News, Bannon is personally close to a number of hosts, regularly meeting with them, relentlessly promoting the "China threat" and using the media megaphone to get his voice heard.

Bannon has also worked with other hawks to create an Anti-China clique. The latest example came in March, when Bannon colluded with other Washington policy advisers to establish the Committee on the Present Danger, which targets China. 

It aims to facilitate "public education and advocacy against the full array of conventional and non-conventional dangers" posed by China, according to an announcement the group released. The committee is widely believed to be fueling bilateral tensions between the two countries. 

Fading away

Many political analysts believe that Bannon was valued by Trump not because of how competent he is, but because he and Trump have many things in common: they are eloquent, part of the elite, and hold similar ideas in trade, immigration and public security.

More importantly, Bannon took advantage of the moment when both parties were looking to adjust their strategy toward China, creating an infectious anti-China atmosphere and blaming China for many problems in American society.

But now Bannon's influence on Trump is arguably minimal. After Trump won the 2016 election, Bannon compared himself with Thomas Cromwell, an ambitious adviser to King Henry VIII in the 16th century, triumphantly hinting at his powerful influence over Trump. 

This metaphor is ironically accurate. The "Cromwell" who once advised the "King" did not escape the fate of being eventually discarded by his master.

Hong Kong's future lies with China, not the West: Martin Jacques

By Kou Jie 

As protests in Hong Kong continue, scholars and experts worldwide have expressed their concern over the city's economic recession and rising violence. During an exclusive interview with People's Daily Online, Martin Jacques, a senior fellow at Cambridge University, called for restored stability and order in Hong Kong, adding that its future lies only with China.
Jacques explained that there is a difference between the original peaceful demonstrations and attacks on police and innocent people, further noting that stability and order should be restored to ensure Hong Kong's future development.
Jacques' comments came after the protests in Hong Kong evolved into extreme violence, with some radicals ransacking the Legislative Council building, assaulting the police, forcing a shutdown of the Hong Kong airport with unauthorized rallies and beating up innocent people.
"I think it's very important for them to see their future in terms of the relationship with China and ‘one country, two systems,' because HK is now part of China, and it offers an enormous opportunity. Certainly, a section of the young people in Hong Kong seem to think that China is not the way forward... and I think they are quite mistaken in this." said Jacques.
According to Jacques, Hong Kong should consider itself a part of China's development, while initiatives such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area could help Hong Kong tackle its economic shortages, securing its future development.
"Hong Kong could try to be a part of what's happening in Southern China. It can get involved, even become leaders in some area, but a positive relationship with the Chinese mainland should be maintained. Otherwise, Hong Kong will simply become increasingly less important, and in some way relatively marginalized, and that will be a very bad situation," said Jacques.
The British scholar has also criticized support from western countries, especially the UK, for the demonstration. He noted that such supportive opinions are irresponsible, while the violence of the demonstration has often been ignored.
"If these demonstrations were taking place in the United Kingdom, the reaction would be completely different. This is a fundamental hypocrisy in the western attitude," adding that the British government has been irresponsible because it was originally party to the agreement of "one country, two systems."
"One of the great problems in Hong Kong when I lived there was the huge ignorance about China. They didn't look north; they look west. " said Jacques.
"The future of Hong Kong is not with Britain; Britain is in serious decline. Why are the young [in Hong Kong] thinking that the future for them is some kind of restoration with the West? There needs to be a big shift in attitudes within Hong Kong, and they should open their eyes to what China is," added Jacques. 

Macron lectures Putin on ‘right to protest’ amid own crackdown on Yellow Vests

Emmanuel Macron took the opportunity to tell Russia’s Vladimir Putin that a “true democracy” should treat protesters with respect. In France, anti-Macron protesters have been met with police batons for the past 40 weekends.
The two leaders met ahead of the G7 summit, which Russia will not be part of, to talk about issues both bilateral and international. Amid the mostly-amicable exchange, the French president scaled the moral high ground to admonish Putin for his treatment of protesters at home.
“We called this summer for freedom of protest, freedom of speech, freedom of opinion and the freedom to run in elections, which should be fully respected in Russia like for any member of the Council of Europe,” Macron said at a joint press briefing at his summer residence on the French Mediterranean coast ahead of 3.5-hour-long talks with Putin.
Referring to a series of opposition protests that were held in the Russian capital in recent weeks, the French leader urged Russia to abide by international agreements guaranteeing freedom of speech and freedom to gather.
“That is why a lot of people were concerned with what is going on in Moscow with all the arrests … that were made by police,” he said. Indeed, both the Western political establishment and media have been gripped by the news of the rallies in Moscow.
What they have not been nearly as thrilled about, though, are the ongoing Yellow Vest rallies in France itself. The country, which, according to Macron, “has always respected all the rights of its citizens,” has seen protests for the past 40 weekends – larger than those in Moscow, and met with a much tougher police response.
While the latest rallies in Moscow were indeed marred by occasional instances of violence and resulted in an unusually high number of detentions, which gave the Western media an opportunity to present it as a crackdown, they still have a long way to go to compare to what the French Yellow Vests have been enduring.
Originating as a protest against a planned fuel tax hike last November, the protests have since turned into a broader movement opposing the policies of Macron and his government. Over the months, which saw demonstrations every weekend, the rallies repeatedly spiraled into clashes between the protesters and police.
Law enforcement never hesitated to use not only batons and tear gas, but also “non-lethal” guns firing 40-mm rubber ‘bullets’ and “instant tear gas grenades” – explosive munitions packing 30 grams of TNT.
This has resulted in thousands of protesters suffering various – sometimes life-changing – injuries, like lost eyes and limbs. In July, hundreds of people even joined the ‘march of the mutilated’ in Paris to protest police brutality.
Putin himself made a reference to the Yellow Vests’ protests, saying that Russia does not want to see uncontrolled violence on its streets, and that citizens are given opportunities to express their opinion in a peaceful and legal way.
“Our people have the right to voice their protest. The authorities need to make sure that this right is upheld,” the Russian leader said, adding, though, that the idea of respecting that right should not be reduced to “absurdity.”
“It should not lead to clashes. Anyone responsible for violence should be held accountable under Russian law.”

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Imran Khan had once opposed extension for army chief. Today, he’s given one

Imran Khan, as opposition leader, had opposed extension to then Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on the grounds that such actions weakened a country's institutions. 

As opposition leader, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had famously called for the “rule of law” to be followed in opposing an extension to the country’s former Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
“In the First World War and the Second World War, no General got an extension,” Khan had said in an interview to the Express News Channel in Pakistan, arguing that rules being bent for one person weakens a system while insisting that only dictators do it.
On Monday, however, the prime minister appeared to have forgotten his own words in granting a three-year extension to incumbent Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.
In a notification, personally signed by Khan, the Pakistani government has defended the decision, saying “it has been taken in view of the regional security environment”.
Bajwa, appointed in November 2016 by then-PM Nawaz Sharif, was due to retire in November 2019. There is a feeling in Indian circles that his extension will see the Pakistani Army’s policy towards India to get more rigid when it comes to supporting terror.

Khan argued for institutions

In stark contrast, Khan had then argued against granting extensions, saying they weakened institutions. “When you break rules for an individual… Gen Musharraf did it, dictators do it, he destroys that institution.”
He further said that it is important in Pakistan to make the institutions stronger and make the systems more powerful.
When asked specifically if he would oppose if an extension is given to Kayani, he said the rule of law applied to all, be it Army or the judiciary. “Rule of law should be followed,” he said.
Below is the transcript of the Imran Khan interview:
Khan: Even during the time of the First and Second World Wars, nobody was given any extension. When you are breaking the law, you destroy institutions and go beyond the realms of law as other dictators including General Musharaf did.
If we have to save this country, we have to strengthen our institutions and society and this is possible only when our law is strengthened.
(Journalist: Do you think General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani should not have been granted an extension?)
No general nor judge should get an extension because it will weaken the respective organisation. See how much General Pervez Musharraf weakened the army, whereas, in Pakistan, the army is given highest regard. There should be a unifying law which should bind all the citizens in equal measures.

#Pakistan - ’غریب ہو تو مفت علاج کے لیے ثبوت کے طور پر حلف نامہ لاؤ‘

سرکاری ہسپتالوں اور بنیادی مراکز صحت پر ملنے والی غریبوں کو مفت علاج کی کئی سہولیات ختم، ٹیسٹوں کی قیمتوں میں 200 فیصد تک اضافہ۔

پاکستان کے سب سے بڑے صوبے پنجاب میں سرکاری ہسپتالوں اور بنیادی مراکز صحت پر ملنے والی غریبوں کو مفت علاج کی کئی سہولیات ختم کر دیں گئی ہیں۔

 ہسپتالوں میں ہونے والے معمولی ٹیسٹوں کی قیمتوں میں 200 فیصدتک اضافہ ہوا ہے جبکہ زکوہ کے مستحق مریضوں کے لیے رائج نظام ختم کر کے انہیں غریب ثابت کرنے کے لیے حلف نامہ جمع کرانا ہوگا۔
صوبائی حکومت کے اس فیصلے سے غریبوں کے ساتھ ساتھ متوسط طبقہ بھی مشکلات کا شکار ہوگا۔
ادویات کی قیمتوں میں اضافے کے بعد ٹیسٹ بھی مہنگے:
پاکستان تحریک انصاف کی موجودہ صوبائی حکومت نے کچھ عرصہ قبل ادویات کی قیمتوں میں 20-25 فیصد تک اضافہ کیا تھا۔
اب پنجاب کے محکمہ پرائمری اینڈ سکینڈری ہیلتھ کئیر نے ڈی ایچ کیو اور ٹی ایچ کیو ہسپتالوں میں تشخیصی ٹیسٹوں کی فیس میں 200 فیصد تک اضافے کا نوٹیفکیشن جاری کیا ہے۔
نوٹیفکیشن کے مطابق مفت ملنے والی ڈینٹل ٹیسٹ کی پرچی 50روپے، سٹی سکین ٹیسٹ ایک ہزار روپے کے بجائے 2500 روپے، خون ٹیسٹ 100سے200 روپے، ایل ایف ٹی 50سے بڑھا کر 300روپے، ای سی جی 60سے 100روپے، الٹرا ساؤنڈ50سے 150روپے، تھائیرائیڈ ٹیسٹ200 کے بجائے900روپے ہوگیا۔
اسی طرح سرکاری ہسپتالوں اور بنیادی مراکز صحت آنے والے مریضوں کو مفت دی گئی سہولیات ختم کر کےاب ایکسرے کرانے کے 60روپے، ہیپاٹائٹس کی سکریننگ کی 75روپے فیس دینا ہو گی۔
ایڈز کی سکریننگ اور او پی ڈی پرچی کے بھی 50,50روپے اداکرنا ہوں گے، ای سی جی 100روپے اور الٹراساؤنڈ150روپے، پتھالوجی کی 43مختلف اقسام پر بھی نئی فیس ہو گی۔
سی بی سی ٹیسٹ کے لیے 200روپے، ای ایس آر کے لیے 60روپے، شوگر ٹیسٹ کے 65روپے، بلڈ یوریا لیول کے لیے 65، سیرم کریٹنن کے 65، سیرم یورک ایسڈ 65، جگر کے حالات کا جائزہ لینے کے لیے لیور فنگشنگ ٹیسٹ کے 300 روپے، پیشاب کی مختلف بیماریوں کا جائزہ لینے کے لیے مریض کو60روپے دینا ہوں گے۔
خواتین کے اسقاط حمل کے حوالے سے ٹیسٹ کی فیس 65روپے، خون کے گاڑھے پن کا تجزیہ کرنے کے لیے 400روپے، ہیپاٹائٹس بی اور سی کی سکریننگ کے لیے 75 روپے، دل کے دورے کی صورت میں ٹراپ ٹی ٹیسٹ کی قیمت 600 روپے، جوڑوں کے درد کا پتہ چلانے کے لیے ٹیسٹ کی قمیت 110روپے، ٹائیفائیڈ بخار کا ٹیسٹ کرنے کے لیے مریض کو 125روپے، مردوں کے مخصوص امراض کی تشخیص کے لیے سیمن ٹیسٹ 125 روپے، پاخانے کا تجزیہ کرنے کے لیے 75، فلویڈ روٹین کے لیے 200، ہیپاٹائٹس بی اور سی کے لیے پی سی آر کی فیس بالترتیب 200اور 400روپے مقرر ہوئی ہے۔
اے این اے ٹیسٹ کی فیس 200، ملیریا بخار کے ٹیسٹ کی فیس 100روپے، خون میں ہیوموگلوبن لیول چیک کرنے کی فیس 350روپے، سوڈیم اور پوٹاشیم کی فیس175، سیریم کیلشیم 125، سریم ایملس کے لیے مریض کو 125روپے ادا کرنا ہوں گے۔
لیپڈ پروفائل کے لیے 250، تھرائی رائیڈ کا بیلنس چیک کرنے کے ٹیسٹ کی قیمت 900روپے مقرر کی گئی ہے ۔
صرف ایمرجنسی وارڈ میں آنے والے مریضوں کو ٹیسٹ کی مفت سہولت دستیاب ہو گی۔ وراڈز میں داخل ہونے یا معمول کا چیک اپ کرانے پر مریضوں کو مزکورہ فیسیں ادا کرنا ہوں گی۔
مفت سہولت حاصل کرنے کی شرائط:
ابتدا سے ہی سرکاری ہسپتالوں میں غریب اور نادار مریضوں کو صحت کی مفت سہولیات کے لیے زیادہ اخراجات کی منظوری کے لیے میڈیکل افیسر یا ڈپٹی میڈیکل افیسر سے تصدیق کرانا ہوتی تھی۔
تاہم، نئے حکم نامہ کے مطابق مستحق مریضوں کو غریب ثابت کرنے کے لیے حلف نامہ پُر کر کے اپنے علاقے کے چیئرمین عشر وزکواۂ کمیٹی سے 
تصدیق کرانا لازم ہوگی۔ 
انگریزی روزنامہ ڈان، لاہور کے سینئر ہیلتھ رپورٹر آصف چوہدری نے اس اقدام کو غریب اور سفید پوش گھرانوں سے تعلق رکھنے والے مریضوں کی عزت نفس مجروح کرنے کا اقدام قرار دیا ہے۔
انہوں نے حیرانی کا اظہارکرتے ہوئے بتایا کہ صوبائی وزیر صحت ڈاکٹریاسمین راشد خود پیشہ ور ڈاکٹر ہونے کے باوجود عام اور غریب مریضوں کے مسائل بہتر سمجھتی ہیں لیکن شاید ان پر اعلیٰ قیادت کا دباؤ ہے کہ محکمہ اپنے اخراجات خود پورے کرے یا پھر بیوروکریسی انہیں جان بوجھ کر ناکام کرنا چاہتی ہے۔
انہوں نے کہا پہلے سے موجود نظام میں بہتری کے بجائے خرابیاں پیدا کی جارہی ہے جو نہ حکومت کے حق میں ہیں اور نہ ہی عوام کے لیے مفید ہیں۔
کئی مریضوں کے لواحقین کا کہنا تھا کہ جب ہم مفت علاج کی درخواست کرتے ہیں تو اب ہمیں جواب میں کہا جاتا ہے کہ غریب ہو تو مفت علاج کے لیے ثبوت کے طور پر حلف نامہ لاؤ۔ 
اس معاملے پر جب صوبائی وزیر صحت ڈاکٹر یاسمین راشد اور سیکرٹری صحت پنجاب سے رابطہ کیا گیا توانہوں نے موقف دینے سے اجتناب کیا۔
حکومتی فیصلے پر سیاسی بیان بازی:
ترجمان وزیر اعلیٰ شہباز گل کے مطابق ٹیسٹوں کی قیمتوں میں اضافہ جتنا بتایا جا رہاہے وہ درست نہیں، ہاں البتہ تھوڑا بہت ضرور ہوا ہے جس کی بنیادی وجہ اخراجات اور سہولیات بہتر کرنے کے اقدامات ہیں۔
انہوں نے تصدیق کی کہ صحت کارڈ رکھنے والے اور حلف نامہ جمع کرانے والے مریضوں کو ٹیسٹوں کی مفت سہولت برقرار رہے گی۔
ان کا کہنا تھا ایک کروڑ غریب افراد کو ساڑھے سات لاکھ روپے کی حد تک علاج کرانے کے صحت کارڈ جاری کر چکے ہیں جبکہ ساڑھے تین کروڑ مزید جاری کیے جائیں گے۔
شہباز گل نے بتایا ہسپتالوں سے ہونے والی آمدن جدید مشینری اور نئے آلات خریدنے، آپریشن تھیٹرز کی حالت بہتر کرنے پر خرچ ہوگی اور یہ اقدام خزانہ بھرنے کے لیے بالکل نہیں۔
سابق وزیر اعلیٰ میاں شہباز شریف نے اپنے ٹویٹر پیغام میں کہا کیا نیازی حکومت میں عوام کے خون پسینے کی کمائی کا پیسہ صرف اشرافیہ اور حکمرانوں کی عیاشی کے لیے ہے ؟ اس غریب دشمن اور سیلفی زدہ حکومت نے پہلے طلبا و طالبات سے تعلیمی وظائف چھینے اور اب غریب مریضوں کا سرکاری ہسپتال میں بھی علاج ناممکن بنا دیا ہے۔ آخر قومی خزانہ جا کہاں رہا ہے؟؟
سابق دور حکومت میں سرکاری ہسپتالوں میں پارکنگ فیس ختم کردی گئی تھی اب کار20روپے اور موٹرسائیکل پارک کرنے کے بھی دس روپے ٹوکن فیس اداکرنا ہوگی۔

'Linking Kashmir With Our Peace Efforts is Reckless, Unwarranted': Afghanistan Lashes Out at Pakistan

Afghan ambassador to the US Roya Rahmani said her country believes Pakistan's motive and insistence to purposely tie Afghanistan to the Kashmir issue is a deliberate attempt to prolong the violence happening on Afghan soil.

Afghanistan has hit out at Pakistan after the latter linked the current situation in Kashmir with the ongoing peace efforts in Afghanistan, with Afghan ambassador to the US Roya Rahmani calling it "reckless, unwarranted and irresponsible".
"The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan strongly questions the assertion made by Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan, that the ongoing tensions in Kashmir could potentially affect Afghanistan's peace process," Rahmani said.
Asserting that Kashmir is "a bilateral issue" between India and Pakistan, Rahmani said her country believes Pakistan's motive and insistence to purposely tie Afghanistan to the Kashmir issue is a deliberate attempt to prolong the violence happening on Afghan soil.
"Any such statements that link the evolving situation in Kashmir to the Afghan peace efforts are reckless, unwarranted and irresponsible," the top Afghan diplomat said in an unusual lengthy statement here. "It is a poor excuse used by Pakistan to justify its inaction against the Taliban and to avoid taking a decisive stance against the militant group," she asserted.
Rahmani said the assertion by the Pakistani Ambassador that the Kashmir issue could compel Pakistan to reposition its troops from its western frontier with Afghanistan to its eastern border with India is "a misleading statement which inaccurately suggests that Afghanistan poses a threat" to Pakistan.
"There is no threat from Afghanistan to Pakistan. The Afghan government sees no credible reason for Pakistan to maintain tens of thousands of military troops on its western frontier," she said. "On the contrary, Afghan stability is frequently threatened by Pakistan-based, sanctioned and supported militant and terrorist groups," Rahmani said.
These groups operate openly from Pakistan-governed spaces and regularly spill over into Afghanistan, she alleged. "Pakistani authorities should address this problem by undertaking a sincere and forceful law and order measure through police actions inside Pakistan," she said.
Rahmani said the statement by her Pakistani counterpart runs contrary to the positive and constructive engagement Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on his recent visit to the country.