24 September 2019
New York: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was seen quietly counting prayer beads during the joint press conference with US President Donald Trump on Monday on the sidelines of the UNGA.
Has Imran Khan turned more religious or is he feeling overwrought and overburdened with the burden of managing his country, with its dipping economy, his Kashmir policy not going anywhere, and talk of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi waiting in the wings to take over.
In contrast to his July 22 joint presser with Trump in the White House, where the Pakistani Prime Minister looked confident and more in control of the situation, in Monday's press conference, Imran Khan kept counting the rosary, something that he rarely does.
In contrast to the earlier press briefing, when Imran Khan was quite voluble and contributed to a major chunk of the talk, this time round it was Trump who did most of the talking, and Imran Khan kept quiet mostly.
Before he landed in New York, with Kashmir as his focus, Imran was also in Saudi Arabia, where along with his wife Bushra Bibi and his delegation, he performed Umrah in Makkah during his two-day stay there.
Bushra Bibi, a spiritual advisor and faith healer, was seen covered totally in a burqa while performing Umrah with Imran, though the two held hands.
Imran Khan and his delegation went inside the Holy Kaaba and prayed for the people of Kashmir and for the prosperity of Pakistan.
During the press interaction with Trump, Imran Khan sounded more somber.
Trump even indulged in some verbal jousting with Pakistani journalists, and seemed to be enjoying it, with Imran Khan keeping quiet and smiling, without joining in.
When one Pakistani scribe described India as an "aggressor", Trump jokingly said "this is the kind of reporter I like". When the reporter persisted, Trump said again: "I like this reporter" to laughter around.
Then Trump asked: "Are you a member of this team? (pointing to Imran)...
"You know what? You're saying, you're saying what you think," he said, telling the reporter that instead of asking a question, he was making a statement.
When another reporter asked about the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, Trump said, jovially: "Where do you find reporters like this? These guys are fantastic" to more laughter.
At the end of the presser, Trump told Imran Khan: "There's a tremendous spirit from your press. I don't see that. With us, they want to always tear our country down. And with your press, it's really - they would like to see something positive for your country."
Reham Khan, the former wife of Imran Khan, who always takes pot shots at the PM, said in a video earlier this month, that Qureshi is waiting in the wings to take over when Imran Khan is toppled.
"And you know Shah Mahmood Qureshi, our PM waiting in the wings. There is talk of the toppling of the chair (of PM)," she said.