Islamabad: Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani called off at the eleventh hour his planned visit to
the US after President Barack Obama refused to meet him on the
sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, a media report
said on Saturday.
The Prime Minister`s House announced yesterday that
Gilani had called off his visit as he intended to personally
supervise relief operations in flood-hit areas of Sindh, but
the Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying that one
reason for the move was the US President`s "refusal to meet"
Gilani on the sidelines of the UN session in New York.
Gilani has now directed Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani
Khar to represent Pakistan at the UN General Assembly session.
There were indications that the strained relations
between Pakistan and the US had led to Gilani cancelling his
trip to America, where he was to address the UN General
Assembly session, the daily reported.
The Pakistan embassy in Washington and the Consulate
General in New York had "tried hard to arrange a meeting
between Prime Minister Gilani and President Barack Obama but
failed," the report said.
The visit was cancelled at the "eleventh hour" and "all
arrangements related to the trip, such as issuance of tickets
to members of the delegation and their hotel bookings in New
York, had been finalised," the report said.
"Supervision of flood relief efforts is an excuse,
because only this week the Prime Minister had a couple of
days` trip to Iran," a journalist, who was to accompany Gilani
to New York, was quoted as saying.
Gilani had yesterday responded to the US criticism of
Pakistan`s efforts in the war on terror by saying that it was
"now time that they (United States) should do more" in the
campaign against terrorists.
He said Pakistan had "sacrificed much in battling the
menace of terrorism" and the country should not be
"pressurised to do more."
Pakistan-US relations hit a new low after the covert US
raid that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the
garrison city of Abbottabad in May.
US officials, including Vice President Joe Biden and
Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, have recently called on
Pakistan to do more against terrorists.
Panetta blamed Pakistan-based militants for the latest
Taliban attack on the US embassy in Kabul while Biden
described Pakistan as an unreliable ally in the war on terror.
The US has renewed pressure on Pakistan to act against
the Haqqani network, which has been linked to the attack on
the American embassy in Kabul.
The US says the Haqqani network of Taliban has safe
havens in Pakistan`s tribal belt near the Afghan border.