Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani on Monday suggested that Prime Minister Imran Khan should not meet US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo when he visits Pakistan. “US secretary of state’s meeting with PM Imran will be against protocol,” Rabbani said while speaking to the media.
The Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) leader further said that the foreign minister should meet the US secretary of state instead of the prime minister. “The transcript of a telephonic conversation between PM Imran and Pompeo was made public and this is a new way of exerting pressure,” he added.
Rabbani continued, “The US cancelled funds to Pakistan for a second time.” He said that the US is not paying for the expenses incurred on the war against terror. “Pakistan is not taking any aid from the US,” he asserted.
Last week, US Defence Secretary James Mattis confirmed Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Joseph Dunford will visit Pakistan this week to meet PM Imran. Speaking at a news briefing at the Pentagon, Mattis said Pompeo and General Dunford will meet with PM Imran and other Pakistani leaders and discuss relations between the two countries.
The two dignitaries are expected in Islamabad for a one-day visit on September 5. Pak-US relations have taken a backtrack after the Pakistan Foreign Office rejected a statement by the US State Department regarding the contents of a phone call between Pompeo and PM Imran last week.
“Pakistan takes exception to the factually incorrect statement issued by US State Dept on today’s phone call between PM Imran and Secretary Pompeo. There was no mention at all in the conversation about terrorists operating in Pakistan,” FO spokesperson Dr Faisal tweeted. He also asked the US to “immediately correct” the statement.
The US State Department, however, indicated there would be no correction in response to Pakistan’s complaint. PM Imran is well known for his criticism of US military policy in Afghanistan, but he said after winning elections that he seeks better relations with the United States after a series of aid cuts and the suspension of US military training.—INP