PM Abbasi unannounced meeting with US VP that too without diplomatic staff raises suspicion back at home

PM Abbasi unannounced meeting with US VP that too without diplomatic staff raises suspicion back at home

*ISLAMABAD: *Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s unnanouced meeting with the US Vice President Mike Pence in US has raised serious eye brows back at home.

Furthermore the absence of any diplomatic and embassy staff during the meeting has made the matter more suspicious and worrying.

The unusually long ‘private’ visit to the United States has fuelled speculation that the visit has taken place to seek Washington’s support in grappling with serious challenges back home.

On Wednesday, Abbasi quietly left for the US on a six-day visit, which triggered reports that Abbasi “had some serious business” with powerful individuals in the Trump administration in a bid to win their support in battling multifaceted political crises facing the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leadership in general and the Sharif family in particular.

While no formal word came from the Prime Minister’s Office or Abbasi’s spokesman regarding the visit’s motives, PM’s close aides informally told journalists that the visit was personal in nature as he had gone to be with one of his sisters, who was scheduled to undergo surgery in Philadelphia on Thursday.

However, Abbasi’s unannounced meeting with the US Vice President Mike Pence raised eyebrows. Some media reports claimed that Pence told Abbasi that Pakistan needed to ‘do more’ in its battle against the Taliban.

Discussions with government officials suggest that the PM’s visit might entail ‘other dimensions’ outside foreign policy issues involving Washington and Islamabad.

“There’s more to the story than meets the eye,” claimed a government official, who once served on a diplomatic assignment in the US.

“Heads of states or governments do pay low-key visits in pursuit of their diplomatic objectives, but they are accompanied by teams of dedicated advisers –foreign policy experts, diplomatic and intelligence officials who render support in the related meetings. No president or PM is in a position to take a solo flight on crucial matters of state interest.”

In Abbasi’s case, no government official is accompanying him on the tour to the US except his chief security officer, the source said.

“For someone who became prime minister only a few months ago and hardly understands the complexities of international diplomacy, paying a secretive visit to the US to pursue foreign policy objectives is highly unlikely. Given that he (PM) had to meet a person as senior as the US vice president, and that too without the support of his official team, it is too idealistic to believe.”