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Protocols vanish during Pak PM's US trip

July 31, 2008 20:57 IST

Diplomatic courtesies extended to visiting foreign leaders were missing on Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani's arrival in the US earlier this week for an official visit.

On arrival at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington on Sunday afternoon, Gilani had to walk from his aircraft to a welcome shed, a distance covered in two to three minutes.

While walking this distance, Gilani and his wife 'were seen quite perturbed as neither there was an ordinary carpet nor the customary red carpet, as is usual on official visits', The News daily reported.

At the gate of the shed, Gilani was received 'by none higher than Assistant Secretary (of State) Richard Boucher', the report said.

All ministers and others accompanying Gilani on his first visit to the US after becoming the prime minister were told to remain in the aircraft. This prompted Information Minister Sherry Rehman to mildly protest at the treatment they were getting.

A junior US official who came to the aircraft to escort Gilani reportedly told Rehman that there was a threat of a thunderstorm and so the others would be safer inside the plane.

What baffled members of Gilani's delegation was that the prime minister was not provided a car to drive up to the welcome shed despite the threat of a thunderstorm.

Journalists and some other members of Gilani's delegation had to wait over eight hours at the airport to be cleared by the US Immigration. Only one immigration officer was posted with a laptop and he took a long time to clear each member of the delegation.

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