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Successful or not? Pakistan, US media differ in interpretation of Mike Pompeo’s visit

world Updated: Sep 08, 2018 10:00 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pompeo in Pakistan,Pakistan,US

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, prior to their meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sept. 5, 2018. (AP/PTI)

The visit of US secretary of state Mike Pompeo could be described as successful if one were to read the Pakistani media, or unsuccessful if the American papers were anything to go by. Pakistanis are now confused whether the trip actually helped relations between the two countries. The local media, under direction from intelligence agencies, removed certain references in the meetings and gave it a positive spin.

Local English language daily Express Tribune quoted foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as saying that an impasse in Pakistan-US relations has been broken during the talks.

Qureshi told the media that the US administration has reviewed its policy in Afghanistan and now it is amenable to talks with the Taliban in an effort to end the 16-year-old conflict in the battered country.

This point was highlighted by other media as well, including most of the TV news channels, which extensively quoted Qureshi in their reporting but failed to get a single quote from any American official to deny or confirm the contention of the Pakistani side.

The Dawn newspaper also took the line that the two sides had decided to reset bilateral ties after the positive initial engagement on Wednesday resulted in an understanding between the Trump administration and the new Pakistani government on delivering on each other’s expectations. “The positivity shown by the two sides after their meeting deeply contrasted the clouds of negativity under which US secretary of state Mike Pompeo arrived in Islamabad,” the paper said.

The American media, many of whom had accompanied Pompeo to Pakistan, were more wary of the situation. The Wall Street Journal in its report quoted Pompeo as saying that the US and Pakistan have “still got a long way to go to reset troubled ties.”

The paper commented that the two sides didn’t reach any concrete agreements during the five-hour visit to Pakistan’s capital but Pompeo said there were “a lot more discussions to be had” as he boarded a flight to India after meeting with Pakistan’s new leaders.

The LA Times was equally unenthusiastic. It described the meetings between Pakistani and US officials as "brief" — less than half an hour at Khan’s official residence and an additional 40 minutes at the foreign ministry. These meetings, the paper said "appeared to have achieved little of substance.”

Other American media outlets gave similar reports on the visit in sharp contrast to the Pakistani media which seemed to suggest that relations between the two countries are on the mend. “It was important to spin this into something positive given how the US announced cancellation of military aid ahead of the visit," commented analyst Ghouse Mohiuddin, who added "the Imran Khan government has to show that it came out better from the visit."

First Published: Sep 08, 2018 07:46 IST