- Besides delegation-level talks, US state secretary to meet PM Khan, FM Qureshi
- Fawad says govt with ‘full army support’ wants to resolve fractured relationship with US
ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is arriving in Islamabad today (Wednesday) on his one-day official trip where he is likely to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
With relations between the erstwhile strategic allies at a low ebb, Pompeo along with top American general will hold talks with the country’s top civilian and military leadership. Soon after his arrival, Pompeo will meet Foreign Minister Qureshi and later delegation level talks will be held at the Foreign Office.
The US delegation is also expected to hold a meeting with the prime minister but former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani suggested that Imran Khan should not meet Pompeo when he visits Pakistan, as this meeting will be against protocol. The foreign minister should meet the US state secretary instead of the prime minister, he said.
Earlier, Qureshi had said that Secretary of State Pompeo would be arriving, and the government would have a chance to sit down with him. “There will be exchanges and we will take our mutual respect for each other into consideration and move forward,” he had said. Pompeo will be accompanied by top US military officer General Joseph Dunford.
Speaking to an Indian TV channel, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has complete backing of the Pakistan Army. “Anything that we [government] say, the army will back us fully. Look both the civilian government and the army are on the same page,” he said.
“This is the first time that the government has the full backing of the army and the civil society in my opinion,” he said. About Secretary Pompeo’s visit to Islamabad, he said that current Pak-US relationship was fractured but Pakistan wants to resolve the bilateral issues. “He [Pompeo] is coming here and we really want to resolve the bilateral issues,” he said.
When questioned about Pak-Afghan ties and the US war in Afghanistan, Fawad said that Islamabad wants to see lasting peace in Afghanistan. According to the US reports, over 43 per cent of Afghanistan was under the militant control, he pointed out. “Why would they [Taliban] make safe havens all the way across the border in Pakistan, it just doesn’t make sense,” he said.
The minister said that the influence of the Haqqani Network, which the US blames Pakistan for, was very low in contrast to the Afghan Taliban. He emphasised that both the sides need to move forward. “There is a dire need to look inward,” he said, adding that the policies of the previous governments in this regard also needed to be changed.