Nawaz likely to visit US early next year

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has decided to maintain its ties with the United States on the cardinal principle of mutual respect while addressing each other’s concerns in a dignified manner once the new administration of Donald Trump is at the helm of affairs in Washington.

The standpoint of Pakistan in this regard would be conveyed to think-tanks in the United States this week when Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi would be in the US capital. He will also have an extensive interaction with the stalwarts likely be part of the new team in various departments, particularly in the State Department.

It has been hinted that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could undertake an important visit of the United States in the first quarter of the next year where a meeting with Donald Trump as president of the host country would be included in his engagements in Washington. The arrangement would be worked out through diplomatic channels soon after assuming the office by President Trump.

A significant meeting with one of the top officials of the United States with Prime Minister Nawaz will take place next month in Davos (Switzerland) on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The Foreign Office is tight-lipped about the mission of Tariq Fatemi and chances of the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the United States.

Syed Tariq Fatemi, who served in Washington for a long period of time in various capacities including his posting as ambassador, had detailed a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the other day to seek his guidance for the mission on which he will be embarking today (Sunday). The News reported his mission yesterday.

The dash of Fatemi who in his own right an astute diplomat has attained significance in the backdrop of maiden communication between Prime Minister Nawaz and US President-elect Donald Trump last week where the later expressed goodwill for Pakistan, its people and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a great deal. The expression of Trump has irked India and detractors of Nawaz back home equally.

Interestingly, Syed Tariq Fatemi was the ambassador of Pakistan in the United States in 1999 when the government of Nawaz Sharif was deposed by the-then Army Chief General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. Fatemi had to face enormous difficulties at the hands of military government afterwards.

Highly-placed sources told The News here on Saturday that Fatemi will stay in the United States for 10 days for his mission. Pakistan’s Ambassador Syed Jalil Abbas Jilani has finalised his schedule of engagements in Washington and other places. He will visit the Capitol Hill apart from his other engagements where he would be meeting some top legislatures of the United States. The prime minister has appreciated the SAPM for taking up a crucial assignment during the days when his family had faced tragedy and they are in mourning.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Syed Jalil Abbas Jilani, who is about to call it a day in about eight weeks upon completion of his contractual period in service, could get yet another extension in service as Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary, who had been tipped to assume the mission in Washington could be retained as the head of the Foreign Office due to non-availability of his replacement, the sources hinted.

Syed Tariq Fatemi will also review working of the diplomatic mission from this aspect as well during his stay in the United States. Syed Tariq Fatemi will also have a meeting with an office bearer of ‘Muslim for Trump,’ Sajid Tarrar, who is believed to have helped in facilitation of a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Donald Trump, the sources added.