The United States embassy in Islamabad directly approached Gilgit-Baltistan’s (G-B) Inspector General Police Hussain Akhtar to provide security for an official US delegation visiting the region on May 30, official sources confirmed to The Express Tribune on Monday.
Surprisingly, the schedule of the three-member delegation including Second Secretary Lisa Arunee Buzenas, Second Secretary Kimberly Gayle Phelan and security assistant Javed Khalid was not communicated to the home department which is responsible for all the security arrangements in case of any visits by foreign delegates.
“We are not aware of a visit planned by any foreign delegation to G-B,” said senior district administration official Usman Ahmed, while talking to The Express Tribune.
Meanwhile, the embassy has also sent names of the individuals and organisations that the delegation intends to meet during its visit.
These include nationalist leaders, academics, government functionaries as well as journalists from the area.
The direct correspondence with the police chief and the notables that the delegation intends to meet has raised concerns in the region, since it comes in the backdrop of the recent Pak-US tensions over the reopening of Nato supplies.
Also, G-B is an important recipient of Chinese aid, which is currently investing billions in various development projects including the rebuilding of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) as well as the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam.
“We have communicated the names of individuals which we intend to meet but kept the purpose of the meeting undisclosed in the letter sent to the IGP,” said an embassy official.
The embassy has also sought police protection at the hotel where the three envoys will stay. The US visit comes at a time when the region has just started to heal from sectarian unrest.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2012.