At the 11th hour: Kerry’s visit postponed over security concerns

Published: July 29, 2013
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Another official disclosed that US authorities cautioned their Pakistani counterparts that the Keery's visit may be postponed again if the dates are made public. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Another official disclosed that US authorities cautioned their Pakistani counterparts that the Keery's visit may be postponed again if the dates are made public. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The much-awaited visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry has been postponed once again after his original travel plan was leaked to the media, official sources told The Express Tribune.

Secretary Kerry was set to arrive in Islamabad on Sunday. However, US authorities rescheduled his two-day visit at the last moment, citing security reasons.

Diplomatic sources and Foreign Office officials confirmed that US secretary of state would not be arriving over the next couple of days.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a government official said the US was keeping Kerry’s travel plan under wraps this time around. “But he (Kerry) will certainly visit before Eid,” he added, without giving any exact date.

Another official disclosed that US authorities cautioned their Pakistani counterparts that the visit may be postponed again if the dates are made public.

This is the second time Kerry’s trip was being rescheduled. He was originally supposed to visit Pakistan in June. The original plan was scrapped, however, owing to developments in the Middle East.

Kerry will be the first high-ranking US official to visit Islamabad since the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government took charge following the May 11 general elections. His visit will provide both sides the first opportunity to share their perspective on a range of issues, from bilateral ties to the current situation in Afghanistan.

On Friday, US Ambassador Richard Olson met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to finalise the agenda for talks between Secretary Kerry and his Pakistani interlocutors.

The PML-N government has already made its expectations from Kerry’s visit very clear. The government intends to persuade the US into halting the CIA-led drone campaign in the country’s tribal areas.

But security and Afghanistan-related issues will not be the only features of the meetings between Kerry and Pakistani leaders. According to a foreign ministry official, Pakistan also wants to discuss several bilateral issues.

One of them is to resume the ‘strategic dialogue’ which is aimed at dispelling the impression that Pakistan-US cooperation is merely confined to security-related matters. The strategic dialogue could not take place since 2011 due to fragile nature of relations between the two countries.

The PML-N government will also seek to enhance economic and trade cooperation with the US.

“One of the central aspects of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s foreign policy is economic diplomacy,” commented one of his senior aides. He said based on this principle, the government would seek to broaden its cooperation with the US.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Nadir
    Jul 29, 2013 - 2:18AM

    Looks like Kerry is afraid of Kayani who will look him in the EYE!

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  • Raj Kafir
    Jul 29, 2013 - 2:21AM

    He can meet Pakistan Prime Minister in Dubai or London. Now a days we live in a global village. Is there any problem meeting the two leaders at a neutral venue?

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  • Asad
    Jul 29, 2013 - 2:41AM

    So… this was supposed to be a surprise visit ??

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  • Jibran
    Jul 29, 2013 - 2:42AM

    What a government, which can’t keep such a small thing secret, What a shame.

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  • Truth detector
    Jul 29, 2013 - 2:53AM

    Does anyone care?

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  • Hafiz
    Jul 29, 2013 - 2:55AM

    LOL…..this proved pakistani security level.shame.Kerry cancel this visit if you want to live.

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  • Np
    Jul 29, 2013 - 3:10AM

    When Kerry became secretary of state there were a lot of comments here about how good it would be to have a person with known soft corner for Pakistan in such a key role. Well of such a person also cannot visit if his date of visit becomes public, any type of economic diplomacy is quite out of the question. No new American investments can be expected in a country so unsafe for Americans.

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  • Arindom
    Jul 29, 2013 - 3:58AM

    Amazing – foreign leaders visit Pakistan unannounced, in secret, in the middle of the night just like they visit Afghanistan! But you are still debating “good” and “bad” terrorists!!

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  • unbelievable
    Jul 29, 2013 - 5:38AM

    Issues in the Middle East are taking priority over meetings in Pakistan which boil down to Pakistan asking for more aid, more trade and less drones — all things covered time and again.

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  • Ravi
    Jul 29, 2013 - 6:21AM

    Everybody horrified…………………. what a state of affairs……………..

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  • Jul 29, 2013 - 6:52AM

    Cited security reasons is an eye wash. And if it is correct the situations are really grave where the Americans too find it unsafe to land( despite entire government is backing the security). another signal to the world community.

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  • hasan
    Jul 29, 2013 - 8:10AM

    Picture the response by the US if anything was to happen to Mr.Kerry while he was visiting Pakistan – the words of a former US state department official, Richard Armitage, immediately spring to mind….

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  • Umair
    Jul 29, 2013 - 8:26AM

    @Raj Kafir:
    Why we think only Cricket can bring solutions to us. Grow up man!

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  • Polpot
    Jul 29, 2013 - 8:42AM

    Having failed in securing reconciliation between Afghan Taliban & Karzai Govt
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Kerry has now focussed at securing reconciliation between NS & TTP.
    TTP to open office in Qatar.

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  • Np
    Jul 29, 2013 - 9:22AM

    @Umair:
    Do you have problems with comprehension? Where did Raj-Kafir refer to cricket?

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  • csmann
    Jul 29, 2013 - 9:55AM

    It is for sure that terrorists will do anything and everything to harm Mr.Kerry, so the precautions

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  • Umair
    Jul 29, 2013 - 10:11AM

    @Np:
    oKay time to use your brain.

    Point is why Mr Raj (probably indian) advising neutral groud to talk with US. Its not a Cricket Series which can be played to any neutral environment, its something bigger. The mess, where US is directly a stake holder and responsible. So they should come to Pakistan, infact Obama should have come because what we are doing as allies no one has ever done for US.

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  • Truth
    Jul 29, 2013 - 10:42AM

    Even the high profile very well gaurded secretary of state afraid to come to pakistan as of security reason.This shows how dangerous pakistan now become for any one to visit.

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  • Polpot
    Jul 29, 2013 - 11:11AM

    @Raj Kafir: “Is there any problem meeting the two leaders at a neutral venue?”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    India has offered Agra with back drop of TajMahal as a neutral venue……

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  • Polpot
    Jul 29, 2013 - 11:14AM

    “At the 11th hour: Kerry’s visit postponed over security concerns”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    The failure ie twofold: once to leak the original schedule and second to leak the postponement.

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  • SKChadha
    Jul 29, 2013 - 11:40AM

    Hold video conference, why the visit at all?

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  • Cola
    Jul 29, 2013 - 12:36PM

    @Umair:
    You have been an US allies not because you love them, but because for self interest and dollars.If you receive dollars, you can’t complain that you are fighting for them.

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  • Arindom
    Jul 29, 2013 - 4:52PM

    @Jibran:
    only in Afghanistan and now Pakistan foreign visitors come on surprise visits in the middle of the night!

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  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Jul 29, 2013 - 5:42PM

    There are good NATO ally and not so good NATO ally. You visit good NATO ally country during the day time and for others unannounced middle of the night visits are reserved.

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  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Jul 29, 2013 - 5:48PM

    Two nation theory: One nation gets three day visit and the other nation post pones visit three times and even than the visits are made in the middle of the night.

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  • Raj - USA
    Jul 29, 2013 - 8:02PM

    For those who have forgotten, just recall the visit of President Clinton to Pakistan after his four day stay in India. During his visit, all streets were cleared and his motorcade travelled at high speed on the wrong side of the road for security reasons. He straight went to address Pakistani public directly on Pakistan TV. He gave a stern warning to Pakistan right on Pakistan’s TV channels and stayed in the country for just four hours. Deputy Secretary of State Armitage in his few hours visit to Pakistan warned that Pakistan will be sent to “Stone Age”. Pakistan did not change despite these warnings and US shall keep its promise, come 2014.

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