US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to visit Islamabad next month for crucial talks on future co-operation between the two countries following the change of government in Pakistan.
This will be the first visit by any senior American official to Pakistan following the May 11 parliamentary polls. Diplomatic and foreign office sources confirmed that Kerry would visit Islamabad sometime in June once the new government was in place.
Sources in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz indicated that the process of democratic transition would likely be completed in the first week of June.
“Kerry will visit Pakistan in June. Dates of his visit will be finalised soon after the formation of the government,” said a PML-N leader familiar with the development.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said that last week US Ambassador Richard Olson informed the prime minister-in-waiting, Nawaz Sharif, about the US administration’s willingness to work closely on issues of ‘common interests’ with the new government.
Olson also told Nawaz that Secretary Kerry was planning to visit Islamabad in June. Kerry himself said recently that he was eager to meet the country’s new leadership.
His visit is seen as crucial since it will set the tone for future co-operation between the two sides.
The PML-N has already indicated that it would review foreign policy pursued by the previous administration.
One of the main agenda items during talks between Kerry and the new leadership would be to resolve the issue of the US drone campaign in the tribal areas.
Although, President Barrack Obama recently made it clear that it would not halt drone attacks, the PML-N is confident that it would be able to find a “mutually acceptable” solution to the controversial campaign.
Another issue that will figure prominently in the discussions is the Afghan endgame.
“The two sides will have the first opportunity to listen each other’s perspective on Afghanistan’s future,” said the PML-N leader. He added that the PML-N government would seek “non-interference” in the internal matters of Afghanistan.
“We will let Afghans themselves to decide their future,” he added.“Mian Sahib has made it clear that only Afghan-led process can succeed and Pakistan’s role will only be a facilitator,” he insisted. Certain elements in Afghanistan are wary of Sharif’s role as an honest “broker” given his past ties with the Taliban. However, the party dismissed such perceptions.