Islamabad, Mar 27 : It was because of "logistical reasons" that US State Department officials John Negroponte and Richard Boucher could not call on PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari at the Zardari House, and, instead the latter had to call on them at the house of deputy head of US mission in Islamabad, said the US embassy.
"The US officials had a very busy schedule and it was only because of logistics that the meeting was arranged at the home of the deputy head of the mission," The News quoted a US embassy spokesperson as saying.
The home of the mission's deputy head was chosen because US Ambassador Anne Patterson had flown to the US just before the arrival of the two US officials, they added.
Interestingly, according to the paper, when the timing of the visit to the foreign secretary was arranged, there was no question of Riaz Muhammad Khan agreeing to meet the American officials anywhere but at the Foreign Office. The same was the case with the president and the COAS, mainly because the two US officials are simple bureaucrats. The matter of meeting all three at their work places was taken for granted. However, it was another matter when it came to meeting the top political leadership, whose parties are now forming the new government.
Negroponte and Boucher called on President Pervez Musharraf, National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif, the foreign secretary and the COAS. However, the PPP chairman and co-chairman went to the home of US deputy head of the mission for the meeting.
Earlier, the US embassy had suggested that PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif should also come to meet them, but his close aides refused saying that the country's twice-elected prime minister would not "call" on US bureaucrats at their choice of place.
Hence, the meeting was held at the Punjab House, where the TV footage showed the former Pakistani diplomat Tariq Fatimi bringing in the US delegation to the room where Nawaz Sharif was waiting.