PRIME Minister Nawaz Sharif and the civilian advisers accompanying him received the red carpet treatment when they arrived in Washington last week.
The prime minister’s state visit – the first in a decade – provided an opportunity to exchange talking points on a wide range of issues. Afghanistan and counterterrorism seem to have been at the top of the Obama administration’s list. The Pakistani delegation was no doubt also focused on regional security, Pakistan’s economic and energy woes, and drones.
Mr Sharif returned home with a significant deliverable in terms of the release of US funding for military and economic assistance. Missing from the official joint statement summarising his meetings was a promise by President Obama to make a return visit to Pakistan, but this is to be expected during his future travel to the region.
In the meantime, Washington will be watching for Nawaz Sharif’s ability to tackle Pakistan’s immense problems at home and with neighbouring Afghanistan and India.
Afghanistan continues to both sustain and injure bilateral ties. The United States and Pakistan have a shared history of misadventure in Afghanistan, paying dearly for each other’s mistakes.
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This op-ed was first published in Dawn on October 29, 2013.
Photo from the White House