Senior US official to visit Pakistan, India next month


US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will travel next month to Pakistan and India, bitter rivals that have clashed on the way forward in Afghanistan, the State Department announced on Monday.

Sherman, after CIA chief Bill Burns, will be one of the first high-level officials under President Joe Biden to visit Pakistan.

Sherman will meet senior officials in Islamabad on October 7-8 after an earlier visit to New Delhi and Mumbai on October 6-7, when she will meet officials and civil society leaders and address the US-India Business council’s annual “ideas summit,” the State Department said.

The trip comes as India, one of the top allies of the Western-backed Afghan government that collapsed last month, urges the world to pay closer attention to Pakistan’s role in the turmoil.

Despite being exposed for funding a long-running disinformation campaign against Pakistan last year, India continues to use its rumor mills to alter global opinion about its arch-rival in the region.

Also read: India’s use of misinformation debunked

Details gathered by The Express Tribune show that more than 40 news items have been produced by mainstream Indian media outlets during this month alone. Each one of them paints Islamabad in a negative light — particularly blaming it for the situation in Afghanistan.

While the spread of unverified information about Islamabad is a permanent feature in New Delhi’s playbook, it churns out more misinformation around key global events.

The current surge in misleading news items has been timed around the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani government in Kabul and the subsequent withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an opinion piece published Monday in The Washington Post, called his country a “convenient scapegoat.”

“In Afghanistan, the lack of legitimacy for an outsider’s protracted war was compounded by a corrupt and inept Afghan government, seen as a puppet regime without credibility, especially by rural Afghans,” he wrote, elaborating on themes in his address on Friday to the UN General Assembly.

He urged the world to engage the Taliban government “to ensure peace and stability.”

Biden, who like his predecessors has called for strong relations with India, has yet to speak to PM Imran, although Secretary of State Antony Blinken met his Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of UN meetings last week and thanked Islamabad for help in evacuating Americans from Afghanistan.

(With input from News Desk)

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