U.S. - Pakistan look at "ties reset"

U.S. – Pakistan look at “ties reset”

A senior aide of United States President Donald Trump arrived in Islamabad early Tuesday morning for follow up discussions with Pakistani authorities on resetting troubled ties between the two nations as well as a renewed push for Afghan peace talks.

The US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Ambassador Alice Wells is scheduled to hold meetings with senior officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal on Monday.

The main focus of Wells’ visit is to reset troubled ties between the two countries. But these efforts depend on whether the two countries would be able to find a common ground on the Afghan endgame.

Recently, Pakistan released a key Taliban figure, apparently on the demand of the US and Afghanistan. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was deputy to the late Taliban Supreme leader Mullah Muhammad Omar. He was arrested from Karachi in a joint Pakistan-US operation in 2010.

Taliban have confirmed his release, although Pakistan has not said anything to this effect officially. The US has long been pushing Pakistan to either persuade the Taliban to come to the negotiating table or take action against their leadership allegedly hiding on its soil.

Pakistan, however, insists that bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table is a shared responsibility of all the regional countries. The US is already in touch with the Taliban’s political office in Qatar. Last month, the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad reportedly held talks with the Taliban representatives in Doha.

Ambassador Wells will also call on Finance Minister Asad Umar. Her visit comes on the heels of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China where the two countries discussed the whole gamut of their relationship including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Official sources indicated that the US was keenly following the PM’s maiden trip to Beijing particularly with a focus on whether China would announce any bailout package for Pakistan.

The US is increasingly concerned over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, insisting that part of Pakistan’s economic woes is because of the multibillion dollar project. Both Islamabad and Beijing have always rejected the US assertion.

Ambassador Wells visit comes just a day before an International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation begins a two-week trip to Islamabad to finalise the possible bailout package.

Not long ago, Secretary Mike Pompeo cautioned the IMF not to approve any bailout package for Pakistan if it was meant for repaying the Chinese loans. The IMF has already announced that it would seek details of the CPEC and loans Pakistan has obtained from China.

The Express Tribune

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