Pakistan has had a visit by a senior US official to the country postponed amid high anti-American sentiment in the country following controversial remarks made by US President Donald Trump.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry and the US Embassy in Islamabad said a planned visit by US Acting Secretary of State Alice Wells had been postponed.
“At the request of the Government of Pakistan, Acting Assistant Secretary Wells’ trip has been postponed until a mutually convenient time,” a US Embassy spokesperson told Reuters on Sunday. The spokesperson’s name was not mentioned in the report.
Neither Pakistani nor the US side explained why the visit was being postponed. But simmering anti-American sentiment caused by Trump’s recent remarks — accusing Pakistan of abetting militants fighting the government and foreign forces in neighboring Afghanistan — is believed to be the reason.
Trump gave a speech last Monday to lay out his administration’s strategy for the Afghan war.
He had previously vilified his predecessor, former president Barack Obama, for failing to end the US-led war in Afghanistan and had largely been expected to curtail American presence in the war, which has become the longest in US history. But in his speech last Monday, he surprised observers by announcing that the war would continue and that the US would be committing even more troops.
In part, he blamed Pakistan.
Trump said Islamabad was giving “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror” and was thus prolonging the Afghan war.
He said a pillar of his administration’s strategy for the region would have to be changing “the approach in how to deal with Pakistan.”
“In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner,” he said, adding, “But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people.”
Those remarks sparked anti-American protests in Islamabad and Karachi on Sunday. In Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city, police had to use tear gas and batons against protesters attempting to march on the US consulate.
The Pakistani government, which has been cooperating with the US since Washington began its so-called war on terror in 2001, denounced the US president’s remarks and said America had been unable to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries in Afghanistan and was pinning the blame on Pakistan instead.
Since 2001, thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks, and many more have been displaced.