Sept 2: Michele Flournoy, US Undersecretary of State for Defence, called Lt-Gen (retd) Syed Athar Ali, Secretary of Defence, on Thursday and apologised for the mistreatment meted out to Pakistan’s military delegation at the Dulles airport in Washington early this week.
The delegation was subjected to over 2 hours of interrogation. An official with the Pakistani Embassy in Washington told FoxNews.com that TSA officials boarded the plane and started interrogating the delegates after they were called in by United crew.
According to the official, the crew was alarmed by one of the delegation's comment that he hoped "this is going to be our last flight."
They showed their passports and invitation letter sent by CentCom but were not allowed to contact anybody at the embassy or at Central Command, the Pakistani official said.
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A statement issued by the Ministry of Defence said Lt-Gen (retd) Syed Athar Ali expressed serious concern over the incident and emphasised the need for an institutionalised mechanism in order to avert such incidents.
Ms Flournoy assured the secretary of defence that all necessary measures would be institutionalised after mutual consultations to avoid reccurrence of any untoward incident in future.
The statement said she also expressed deep condolences on the loss of precious lives and devastation caused by unprecedented floods.
Lt-Gen (retd) Athar Ali thanked her and fully acknowledged the support extended by the US military and the government in rescue and relief operations.
Anwar Iqbal adds from Washington: The United States has asked Pakistan to reschedule a defence meeting which was cancelled when the Pakistani delegation returned home after a dispute at the Dulles airport.
On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told a briefing that the US “Defence Department will be reaching out to Pakistan to see if we can reschedule these talks, perhaps in Pakistan”.
“We think that there was a misunderstanding, miscommunication between the Pakistani contingent and the air crew. It did result in the Pakistani contingent leaving the aeroplane … returning to Pakistan,” he said.