by Muhammad Tahir
ISLAMABAD, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan says Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will not seek aid during the current three-day official visit to the United States but will mainly focus on trade, energy, investment and market access.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Sartaj Aziz is of the view that no major breakthrough is expected in the visit. However, progress on certain issues will improve bilateral relationship.
Nawaz Sharif, who has opened his visit with a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, is scheduled to meet President Barrack Obama at the White House on Wednesday to discuss wide- range of security and economic issues. This will be Sharif's first meeting with Obama since he assumed office following the May elections.
"Pakistan will insist in economic relationship that includes energy, trade and investment and market access. Security issues will also come under discussion in overall relationship," Aziz said in a recent media interaction about the visit. This is the first visit by a Pakistani prime minister to the United States in five years and is important for the bilateral relationship which has seen ups and downs in recent years and in the context of U.S. and NATO troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Washington is disparate for Islamabad's key role in Afghan reconciliation to find out a political solution as it believes the country still enjoys deep influence on the Afghan Taliban and could encourage them to come to the negotiation table.
Analysts believe the United States will also share its concerns with Pakistan over terrorism and will urge Pakistan to take decisive action against the alleged sanctuaries of the militants who are blamed for cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
Pakistan-U.S. relations had been important over the past ten years in the context of Afghanistan as the United States had been looking at Pakistan in Afghan lens. Pakistan is now anxious for a new and long-term strategic relationship and not to be linked to Afghanistan and Sharif will push for it.
Pakistan will insist on revival of the Strategic Dialogue that was suspended due to some events in 2011 and 2012 that include the U.S. air raid on Pakistani border posts and killed 26 soldiers, U. S. unilateral military operation to kill Osama bin Laden in the city of Abbotabad and a CIA agent Raymond Davis killed two Pakistanis in the eastern city of Lahore.
Prime Minister Sharif has indicted he will raise the issue of U. S. drone strikes in the country's tribal regions during his talks with President Obama. The issue is unresolved despite Islamabad's repeated calls for end to the CIA-controlled drone campaign as Washington considers it as an effective tool to eliminate al-Qaeda operatives and the Taliban elements.
The United States has started giving some positive signals to appease Pakistan as the State Department has asked Congress to resume more than 300 million U.S. dollars in blocked security assistance to Pakistan. The Obama administration is also set to release more than 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in military and economic aid to boost ties with Pakistan, U.S. media has reported. The money will be helpful in budgetary support.
However, both countries face a gigantic task -- how to bridge the trust deficit, as many in Pakistan doubt the U.S. policies in the region as they believe it has only served its interests.