Why Pakistan asked US to ‘immediately correct’ statement?

Islamabad: Pakistan asked the US to “immediately correct” a readout issued by the State Department in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quoted saying that he asked Pakistan’s new Prime Minister to take “decisive action” against all terrorists operating in the country.

On Thursday, the State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauret had issued the readout stating that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a telephonic conversation with Imran Khan. The statement contained the phrase “terrorists operating in Pakistan”.

The statement was carefully worded and did not explicitly say whether the US was asking Islamabad to act against terrorists operating in Pakistan or whether it was appreciating actions already taken against them.

The relevant part of the statement read: “Secretary Pompeo raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan and its vital role in promoting the Afghan peace process.”

According to the Foreign Office (FO), Pompeo congratulated Khan while discussing other issues of interest and there was no mention of “terrorists operating in Pakistan”.

FO spokesman Mohammad Faisal said that “Pakistan takes exception to the factually incorrect statement issued by US State Department on today’s phone call between Prime Minister Khan and Secretary Pompeo”.

“There was no mention at all in the conversation about terrorists operating in Pakistan. This should be immediately corrected,” Faisal said on Twitter.

The Pakistani media this week reported that Pompeo is likely to visit Islamabad in the first week of September to hold talks with newly-elected Prime Minister Khan.

The relations between Pakistan and the US nose-dived after President Donald Trump in January accused Islamabad of giving nothing to Washington but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven” to terrorists.

The US Congress also passed a bill to slash Pakistan’s defence aid to $150 million, significantly below the historic level of more than USD one billion per year.

In his victory speech last month, Khan had said that he wants a balanced relation between Pakistan and America which should be mutually beneficial, not one-sided.

(With inputs from Agencies)