Pompeo arrives in Pakistan hoping to 'reset' relations

Pompeo arrives in Pakistan hoping to 'reset' relations

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has arrived in Pakistan at a time when relations between the two countries have sunk to a new low.

The US last weekend cancelled a 300 million dollar Coalition Support Fund payment to Pakistan, and on board his plane to Pakistan, Mr Pompeo announced his appointment of an unpopular figure in Pakistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, as the new US special adviser on Afghan reconciliation.

Mr Pompeo said he wanted to "reset" strained relations with Pakistan, but the appointment of Mr Khalilzad could complicate his job.

"He has been very critical of Pakistan in the past and his appointment will not help move things forward," said Zahid Hussain, defence analyst and author of two books on militancy in the region.

Mr Khalilzad was born in Afghanistan and served as US special envoy to the country following the collapse of the Taliban from 2001 to 2003 and then US ambassador to Afghanistan until 2005.

He has been critical of Pakistan, often blaming the country's deteriorating security and countrywide chaos on the military and the powerful ISI intelligence agency, accusing them of harbouring and aiding Taliban insurgents.

During his visit to Pakistan, expected to last only a few hours, Mr Pompeo is holding meetings with new prime minister Imran Khan as well as army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and foreign minister Shah Mehmood Quereshi.

Afghanistan and the prospects of a negotiated end to the war are likely to dominate talks before Mr Pompeo leaves for neighbouring India.

While neither the US nor Pakistan can afford a complete rupture in relations, Mr Hussain said Islamabad is frustrated that the relationship has been reduced to a single-point agenda: Afghanistan.

"The United States seems only to see Pakistan through the prism of Afghanistan," he said. "The main thing is we would like to be allies with the US but with dignity."

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