Pakistan postpones US visit after Trump speech

Protestors march towards the US consulate, in Karachi on Aug 27, 2017.
Protestors march towards the US consulate, in Karachi on Aug 27, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD (REUTERS) - Pakistan postponed a visit by a United States acting assistant Secretary of State, officials said, as small protests broke out against President Donald Trump's accusations that Islamabad was prolonging the war in Afghanistan.

The visit of Alice Wells, acting assistant Secretary of State for South and Asian Affairs, scheduled for Monday (Aug 28), would have been the first high-profile visit by a US official since Mr Trump's Afghan policy speech on Aug 21.

"At the request of the Government of Pakistan, Acting Assistant Secretary Wells' trip has been postponed until a mutually convenient time," a US Embassy spokesperson told Reuters in Islamabad on Sunday.

Pakistan's foreign ministry released a statement with similar wording. Neither side gave a reason for the postponement, but US officials working in Pakistan have been on high-alert since Mr Trump's speech last Monday.

Mr Trump accused Pakistan of harbouring "agents of chaos" and providing safe havens to militant groups waging an insurgency against a US-backed government in Kabul.

Pakistani officials responded by saying the US should not"scapegoat" Pakistan and accused the American military of failing to eliminate militant sanctuaries inside Afghanistan.

In the southern metropolis of Karachi, police fired teargas at protesters from a religious student group as they began moving toward the US consulate building.

Between 100 and 150 protesters carrying placards bearing pictures of President Trump and chanting anti-US slogans were kept at bay by police and not allowed within 3 km of the consulate.

On Friday, banned Islamist organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa, held responsible by Washington and New Delhi for a series of coordinated attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008, staged nationwide protests but also failed to draw large numbers.