Washington/Islamabad: Was Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan given a diplomatic snub when he arrived in Washington on his maiden US trip to reboot bilateral ties that have seen a downslide?
With his country in financial doldrums, Khan made it a point to travel by a commercial flight, Qatar Airways, instead of a private jet, to cut down expenses.
When his flight touched down at Dulles airport, reportedly there was no high ranking US administration official to welcome him.
Later, Khan took a metro ride to the Pakistani envoy’s house.
Social media was awash with speculation that Khan had been snubbed by the US administration, and that the Pakistani government had offered to pay $250,000 for the State Department to arrange an official welcome/protocol of the visiting Pakistani premier, but it was refused.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was at the airport to receive Khan and also accompanied him on the metro ride.
Acting Chief of Protocol, Mary-Kate Fisher, who had welcomed the Pakistan Prime Minister at the airport, accompanied him on the metro ride.
The State Department later said the Acting Chief of Protocol had received the visiting Prime Minister, “as is standard for an Official Working Visit to the White House”.
Imran Khan, who is staying at the official residence of the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed Khan, is to meet US President Donald Trump on July 22.
Khan, who was lustily greeted by members of the Pakistani expatriate community, later met with the Pakistani business community.
During his three-day visit, Khan is also to meet IMF acting chief David Lipton and World Bank President David Malpass.
Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are accompanying Khan to the US.
The Pakistan Embassy in Washington has hired the services of top lobbying firm Holland & Knight to help advance the country’s interests in the US.
His visit comes as Pakistan has received a $6 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) despite concerns expressed by the US.
According to the White House, Khan’s visit will focus on strengthening cooperation between Washington and Islamabad to bring peace, stability and economic prosperity to a region that has seen far too much conflict.