ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf will be leaving for Afghanistan in the second week of next month as it will be his first foreign trip in the present capacity. The visit will have conspicuous significance since both the countries are in the eye of the storm on the question of supply routes and new dimensions of ongoing so-called war against terror. The schedule would be worked out through diplomatic channels in a week.
President Asif Zardari who had postponed his visit to the Russian city St. Petersburg’s from where he had to proceed to the United Kingdom last week would be starting his UK visit this week as he will be leaving for London tomorrow (Wednesday). The visit to St. Petersburg was for the Economic Forum and it was called off due to the Supreme Court’s verdict in the contempt case. The president’s week-long visit of the United Kingdom will provide him chance to have interaction with British PM David Cameron and some other high level meetings during his stay there.
The president will also have meetings with the workers and leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) living in UK before returning home Saturday next. Interestingly no minister or senior official is accompanying him in this important visit as Foreign Minister Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar is also not the part of the presidential entourage.
Well placed diplomatic sources told The News that Prime Minister Raja Ashraf who had detailed telephonic conversation with Afghan President Hamid Karazai on Monday accepted the invitation to visit Kabul. Interestingly Afghan president is the first foreign head of government who has spoken to the new prime minister of neighbouring country. Former Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani had to travel to Afghanistan early this month but he dropped the idea at the eleventh hour.
In the meanwhile diplomatic observers have expressed their astonishment about the lukewarm reaction about the designation and election of Raja Pervaiz Ashraf as new Prime Minister of the Pakistan. Afghanistan president is the second chief executive of any other country after Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh who has felicitated Raja on his election formally. It is understood that talks Raja had with Afghan President was more of working nature because the countries were engaged in a tangle for the restoration of ground lines of communication (G-LOC) through the soil of Pakistan for Nato troops engaged in combating in Afghanistan.
The US spokesperson reaction earlier in Washington about the election of Raja also lacked enthusiasm since no high level reaction came from Washington. The ambassadors/high commissioners posted in Islamabad in their messages to their respective capitals while analysing the political situation in their host country didn’t mail favourable dispatches as they expressed disappointment about the change in Pakistan, the sources said.