News Analysis |
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi asserted that an impasse in Pakistan-US relations had been broken during talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Pakistan on Wednesday. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday, saying he was hopeful of “a reset of relations” long strained over the war in Afghanistan.
FM Shah Mahmood also tweeted his optimism about a reset in relations.
Met with @SecPompeo at Islamabad earlier today. Today’s meeting was the beginning of a new dawn after a spell of darkness. The atmosphere was cordial, and one of mutual respect and understanding. And we think that’s a great start for a reset. pic.twitter.com/ADeBv4ChN3
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) September 5, 2018
Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi received the US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Welcoming the visiting Secretary of State, the Foreign Minister emphasized that Pakistan looked forward to building sustainable ties with the United States based on mutual trust and respect.
During the delegation level talks held at the Foreign Office, Secretary Pompeo was accompanied by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, David Hale. Foreign Minister Qureshi was assisted by the Foreign Secretary and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday, saying he was hopeful of “a reset of relations” long strained over the war in Afghanistan.
During the discussions, the two sides exchanged views on bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest. The Foreign Minister highlighted that the priority of the new Government was socio-economic development and, for the success of people-centered agenda and economic reforms, an enabling regional security environment was imperative. Foreign Minister Qureshi reaffirmed that improving relations with neighbors was a priority.
In the context of Afghanistan, the Foreign Minister highlighted the latest positive developments on the Pakistan Afghanistan front, including operationalization of the Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS). He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to continue efforts for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan. The two sides agreed that present conditions in Afghanistan were conducive to intensifying efforts for a political settlement. They underscored the need for the Taliban to seize the opportunity for talks in response to President Ghani’s offer for an unconditional dialogue.
Secretary Pompeo stated that US fully supported the reform agenda of Prime Minister Imran Khan and wished the government success in its implementation. Noting the importance of the longstanding Pak-US relationship, Secretary Pompeo conveyed the US desire to work with Pakistan in furthering the shared objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Additionally, Secretary Pompeo and General Dunford paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister and held a meeting with the Chief of Army Staff. Pompeo’s visit, along with the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the first high-level U.S. mission to the new government. It aimed to smooth over tensions after President Donald Trump took a tough new line towards Pakistan over longstanding accusations it is not doing enough to root out Afghan Taliban fighters on its territory.
Pompeo met with Khan as well as Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and the country’s powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. “We talked about their new government, the opportunity to reset the relationship between our two countries across a broad spectrum,” including business ties and ending the war in Afghanistan, Pompeo told reporters before leaving for India.
Welcoming the visiting Secretary of State, the Foreign Minister emphasized that Pakistan looked forward to building sustainable ties with the United States based on mutual trust and respect.
“And I’m hopeful that the foundation that we laid today will set the conditions for continued success as we start to move forward.” Khan, a former cricket star who swept to power in the July elections, also struck a positive tone. ”I’m a born optimist. A sportsman always is an optimist. He steps on the field and he thinks he’s going to win,” Khan told reporters.
Before the meeting, there was a segment of politicians and analysts who did not want a meeting between the PM and Pompeo. Former chairman Senate and Pakistan People’s Party stalwart Senator Raza Rabbani had advised Prime Minister Imran Khan not to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Raza Rabbani said, “The meeting of Prime Minister of Pakistan with US Secretary of State is against the protocol. Pompeo should only meet with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi.”
The former chairman Senate went on to say, “US made PM Imran-Pompeo phone call transcript public. It is another tactic to mount pressure.” “The United States stopped Pakistan’s funds second time. Islamabad is not asking for any aid but Washington is not reimbursing expenses of war against terrorism.”
But there were also those who desired such a meeting in an attempt for the new government to navigate the political minefield of US-Pakistan relations. And, to many, including foreign observers, Islamabad’s displeasure was evident since Pompeo landed.
Pompeo, Dunford get cold, minimal reception upon arrival. Islamabad is seething with anger over Trump Admn harshness. pic.twitter.com/lSYHZLNrlB
— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) September 5, 2018
Dear @realDonaldTrump do you really think Pakistan is an ally? They not only denied @SecPompeo the basic protocol but literally humiliated him on his arrival at Islamabad. Wonder why tolerate this? pic.twitter.com/VsOcMUvBvr
— Anurag Dixit (@bhootnath) September 5, 2018
#US officials who once used to enjoy unparalleled hospitality and protocol in #Pakistan are today welcomed by low level officials & without any redcarpets and special gestures. #Trump #Pompeo #America #Afghanistan https://t.co/Hk65x3v5Ef
— Cristina Richardson (@CrRich1) September 5, 2018
Many ascertained that Pompeo himself was more focused on the Indian visit form the 2+2 talks where he was received more warmly.
Contrary to #Pakistan's cold reception on arrival at Chaklala base, Mike #Pompeo was greeted by #India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the tarmac in Delhi. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman greeted Defence Secretary James #Mattis at the airport too. #2Plus2Dialogue
— Naveed Ahmad 🌻 (@naveed360) September 6, 2018
Many analysts now state that Pompeo’s visit did not receive its aims. It could not coerce the Pakistani government to “do more”. Mike Pompeo himself said the U.S. and Pakistan had got a long way to go to reset troubled ties after a visit in which he sought Islamabad’s help in ending the war in Afghanistan. Western media outlets have noted that Pompeo went away without a solid deal on Afghanistan.
It seems that “Naya” Pakistan has stood its ground in its first engagement with a belligerent America. It can be asserted that the road to a new reset in ties has been initiated in which the specter of Do More and a Client state will be buried.