ISLAMABAD: In a bid to ease tensions that got worse following US President Donald Trump’s tirade against Pakistan, the United States and Pakistan are sending two top envoys, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, to each other’s capitals.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal is all set to visit the US next week and expected to meet World Bank officials, it was reported. Moreover, he would also deliver a speech at the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. He would also give a briefing on the multibillion-dollar project, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), at an event.
However, leading English daily reported that Ahsan Iqbal’s visit is of personal nature as he had been planning for a month to visit the US to meet his daughter-in-law and his new-born grandson.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal’s visit comes in the wake of Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s visit to the US, who met his American counterpart Rex W Tillerson and National Security Adviser Lt Gen McMaster last week to covey Pakistan’s concerns over the recent US strategy which focuses on granting greater role to India in Afghanistan. The foreign minister also conveyed that the US cannot bully Pakistan into following its commands.
US President Donald Trump on August 21 announced his new Afghan policy and accused Pakistan of providing safe havens to the Afghan Taliban. Trump also blamed Pakistan for not doing more in the war on terror and threatened it with economic sanctions if it continued supporting the Taliban. Pakistan reacted strongly to the accusations, saying it wanted to be treated with respect as it was not US’s ‘whipping boy’.
The frosty relationship between the US and Pakistan, however, thawed late last month when Premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.
Secretary Tillerson is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad late this month and he will be followed by Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis early next month.
Mattis told congressional panel earlier this week: “I would like to think we will be successful,” but that the United States “has an enormously powerful number of options”.
Reports in US media on Washington’s strategy for normalising relations with Pakistan suggest that while Tillerson would go with a soft, diplomatic message, Secretary Mattis would explain to Pakistanis that continuing its current policies could have adverse consequences.