Pak to host China FM amid US ‘aid’ row
New Delhi, September 3
In messaging not lost especially on the United States, Pakistan is expected to host China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi this week in Islamabad.
According to sources in Pakistan, Wang is expected to be in Islamabad from September 7 to 9. Importantly, Wang’s visit to Pakistan, just days after the new Imran Khan government has come to power, will take place immediately after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wraps up his first stop over at the country.
Pompeo who will be in New Delhi for the inaugural ‘2+2’ dialogue along with Defense Secretary Jim Matis will hold discussions with counterparts Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman on a host of issues, including the Trump administration’s Afghan-Pak strategy which has carved out a more prominent role for India in the region.
Ahead of the Delhi meeting, Pompeo along with US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford will be in Islamabad enroute Delhi on September 5. The yet to be officially announced visit of Wang Yi also comes amid a fresh standoff between US and its non-NATO frontline ally as it announced suspension of 300 million USD towards Coalition Support Funds (CSF) for Pakistan. Angry reactions have poured in on the US move with Mushahid Husain, Head of Foreign Affairs Committee in the Pakistani Senate, calling it a “sop to India” and disputing that it is “aid money”.
“American stoppage of $300m Coalition Support Funds (CSF) undermines Pompeo visit to Islamabad & is a sop to India as he seeks to solidify Indo-US front against Pakistan’s best friend, China; earlier, $500m CSF was stopped, all this is money owed to Pakistan by US, NOT aid!” tweeted Husain on Sunday. A statement issued after Chinese envoy to Islamabad called on new Pak Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi recently said, Pakistan and China are Iron Brothers and close friends.
Pentagon had earlier this year cancelled off 500 million USD in CSF towards Pakistan for not cracking the whip against terror outfits undermining American efforts in the region. “Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy the remaining $300 million was reprogrammed,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner had said after US Congress followed Trumps directive to strip off another 300 million USD of CSF.