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Pakistan denies its way out of Michelle Obama soup

mumbaipaper Updated: Aug 31, 2016 09:40 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top diplomat was allegedly admonished by the White House for posting on social media his photograph with US first lady Michelle Obama, news reports said on Tuesday, forcing Islamabad to issue an official “denial”.

In a statement on Tuesday, the foreign office said media reports about a letter of displeasure from the White House to Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Jalil Abbas Jilani, was “completely incorrect and baseless”.

The Pakistani daily The News claimed Jilani was criticised for tweeting the picture in May.

On May 28, the Pakistani ambassador had tweeted: “It was an absolute delight hosting FLOTUS at Pakistan House today,” with a picture. He later removed the tweet. The White House said Jilani’s action was undiplomatic and a breach of trust, the report said.

“Mrs Obama’s brief visit to the residence of the ambassador was purely personal and extracting any political gain out of that was unprofessional,” the report quoted the letter as saying.

Michelle Obama’s visit to Pakistan House — Jilani’s residence — was connected with his son’s graduation party, who attended the same school as President Barack Obama’s daughters.

However, the picture tweeted by Jilani gave an impression that the US first lady had close ties with the Pakistani ambassador’s family.

Jilani was also allegedly scolded by the Pakistani foreign office, the newspaper claimed quoting unnamed sources.

Some media reports had even suggested that bilateral ties were discussed during Michelle Obama’s visit. Pakistan foreign office spokesman Nafees Zakariya said it was “unethical” on the part of the Washington-based reporter to have filed a “baseless story without verifying its authenticity”.

“No such letter from the White House has been received either in our mission in Washington or this ministry. It is nothing but a figment of the reporter’s own imagination,” it said.

First Published: Aug 31, 2016 09:40 IST