In what will be the Trump Administration’s first contact with the newly elected government in Pakistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be in Islamabad in the first week of September. Pompeo’s stopover in Islamabad has been added to his pre-scheduled itinerary of his India visit.
Pompeo, who is expected in Islamabad on September 5, would be the first foreign dignitary to meet Prime Minister Khan, Dawn reported, quoting diplomatic and official sources.
Pompeo will be accompanied by U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. The due is scheduled to be in New Delhi on September 6-7 for the 2+2 dialogue with Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman.
Pompeo’s visit will be the most high profile outreach by the Trump Administration to Pakistan after it has slashed defence aid and diplomatic outreach due to Islamabad’s support to radical Islamic outfits – in Afghanistan, and against India.
U.S. President Donald Trump has called out Pakistan’s establishment on its support to the Taliban in Afghanistan which have repeatedly attacked U.S. and NATO troops stationed in the country. In January this year, he said, "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools…They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"
The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
Ahead of Pakistan's recent election where Imran Khan appeared to be the pre-determined winner, the U.S. the State Department had expressed concerns about “flaws in the pre-voting electoral process" highlighting the “constraints placed on freedom of expression and association” during the election campaign.
Pompeo and Mattis’ visit seems to be an effort to feel out the newly-elected Pakistani prime minister and his attitude towards Pakistan’s defence establishment’s covert support to terrorist outfits. The U.S. state department said, “it welcomed the swearing-in of Khan as new Prime Minister and that it was looking forward to working with Pakistan's new civilian government to promote peace and prosperity in the country and in the region.”
Keeping Islamabad’s track record in mind, one wonders if this effort is not a futile one indeed.