More than me too
Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan’s prime minister, was due to visit the United States later this month. But last week the Pakistani government called it off.
Initially, Pakistani diplomats in Washington explained that Shaukat Aziz had to stay back in Pakistan due to the worsening flood situation and municipal elections.
But it turned out that the tickets were cancelled once it became clear that he would’nt be getting the same treatment that was accorded to the Indian prime minister this week.
Pakistani suggestions that he be hosted at a White House dinner, like the Indian prime minister, or be invited to address a joint session of Congress, were turned down politely but firmly. Neither were there any guarantees available that his media reception would remain â€œrespectful.â€ It was also discreetly suggested that Shaukat Aziz was an â€œelectedâ€ prime minister in a technical rather than in a real sense. The Pakistani leader who is seen as the man in charge is President Pervez Musharraf.[DT]
While protocol makes a more believable excuse than municipal elections, it may well be the fact that the current international mood is hardly sympathetic to the Musharraf regime’s ‘frontline ally in the war on terror’ line that tipped the scales. Shaukat Aziz would have come in for some tough treatment from the US government, and rough treatment by the media — with recent reports of the Lodi jihadi cell, the London bombings and escalation of Taleban attacks in Afghanistan still fresh in people’s minds. And there’s Mukhtaran Mai, who, despite all the attention she received last month, is still disallowed from traveling abroad. As the Daily Times’ Khalid Hassan put it
The London bombings proved to be the final straw as far as the visit was concerned as it was felt in Islamabad that their fallout would cloud the atmosphere and the visit, instead of helping Pakistanâ€™s image, would further tarnish it. [DT]
It is believed in some quarters that Pakistan which sees itself as a key US ally in the war against terrorism may have taken an exception to this preferential treatment given to its eastern neighbour. One interpretation could be that by putting off the trip Pakistan wanted to convey its disappointment to Washington.[Dawn]