WASHINGTON: US Sec­retary of State Michael Pompeo is likely to visit Islamabad in the first week of September for consultations with Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team on issues of mutual interests, diplomatic and official sources told Dawn.

Mr Pompeo, who is expected in Islamabad on Sept 5, will likely be the first foreign dignitary to meet the newly elected prime minister, who took the oath of his office on Saturday.

During his talks with the Pakistani officials, Secre­tary Pompeo may focus on two major issues: efforts to revive once close ties between the two states and Pakistan’s support for a US-led move to jump-start the Afghan peace process, the sources said.

Pakistan is likely to seek the US support for its bid to obtain an expected $12 billion financial package from the International Monetary Fund. Islamabad also hopes that an improvement in relations will lead to the resumption of US security assistance to the country and the restoration training facilities for their military.

Editorial: Mike Pompeo's statement on IMF bailout of Pakistan reeks of US arrogance

Alice Wells, who heads the Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs at the State Department, may also accompany Mr Pompeo, according to the sources.

Mr Pompeo and his delegation may also visit India and Afghanistan during this trip, which is part of the Trump administration’s efforts to conclude a peace agreement in Afghanistan before the mid-term congressional elections in the United States scheduled for November.

Earlier this week, US officials urged Pakistan to help end the Afghan war, adding that recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan had not discouraged them from negotiating peace with some Taliban factions. Ms Wells reminded Pakistan that now was the time to peacefully end the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan and encouraged Islamabad to play a leading role in this process.

Apparently, Washington believes that Pakistan still has enough influence over the Afghan Taliban to persuade them to join the peace process, and wants Islamabad to help establish a political set-up in Kabul that would allow a peaceful withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

On Monday last week, Secretary Pompeo telephoned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and sought his support for arranging another ceasefire in Afghanistan.

The first ceasefire on Eidul Fitr led to the first face-to-face talks between the US and Taliban officials in Doha last month. Both sides are now trying to hold the second round also in Doha in September.

In recent statements, the US officials have also expressed the desire to restore their once close ties with Pakistan.

On Saturday, the US State Department said that it recognised and welcomed the new Pakistani prime minister, dispelling the impression that Washington was not happy with Imran Khan’s election.

In an earlier statement, a senior US official had expressed the hope that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government would work with the US for translating tough issues into mutual achievements.

In her speech at the Pakistan Embassy earlier this week, Ms Wells not only welcomed Mr Khan’s election but also expressed the desire to work with his government for resolving difficult issues. “A negotiated political settlement to the 17-year-long conflict in Afghanistan is a critical shared goal, and an area where we all would hope to see progress in the coming months,” she said.

In a similar message on Tuesday, Secretary Pompeo also stressed this point and expressed the desire to work with Pakistan to “advance (the) shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia”.

However, on July 27, the State Department had expressed “concerns about flaws in the pre-voting electoral process”, noting that “these included constraints placed on freedoms of expression and association” during the campaign period. The department pointed out that such practices were “at odds with Pakistani authorities’ stated goal of a fully fair and transparent election”.

Relations between Pakistan and the US nosedived in January when President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of providing “safe haven” to the terrorists who kill American soldiers in Afghanistan while taking billions of dollars in aid from Washington.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2018


Long arm of Big Tech
20 Jan 2021

Long arm of Big Tech

How many people would still be alive if Twitter and Facebook had denied Trump a platform to spread lies about Covid-19 a year ago?
Words, words, words
19 Jan 2021

Words, words, words

There was little in terms of contributions in our own language as we wrestled with the pandemic.


Updated 20 Jan 2021

Broadsheet judgement

There are plenty of skeletons in the Broadsheet cupboard and they must be brought out into the open.
20 Jan 2021

Unequal justice

IT seems no one wants to testify against former SSP Malir, Rao Anwar. At least five prosecution witnesses, all ...
20 Jan 2021

Schools reopening

THE disruptive impact of Covid-19 on education will be felt for years to come. For countries like Pakistan, where...
Updated 19 Jan 2021

LNG contracts

It is important for industry to reconnect with the national grid and for gas to be allocated for more efficient uses.
19 Jan 2021

Murdered judges

THE continuous violence in Afghanistan has raised serious questions about the sustainability of the peace process, ...
19 Jan 2021

K2 feat

A TEAM of 10 Nepalese mountaineers made history over the weekend as they scaled the world’s second highest peak K2...