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US special envoy James Dobbins to visit Pakistan soon

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ISLAMABAD: The United States Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins would soon be visiting Pakistan as the US is believed to be eager to establish a working relationship with the incoming Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.

Nawaz Sharif, who has been named by PML-N as the next prime minister, has already met Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and talked to a number of world leaders, including President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Hamid Karzai by phone after his party won the May 11 polls.

During his visit, James Dobbins would discuss both bilateral issues and matters related to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, informed sources said.

Washington’s policy towards the incoming PML-N government has been one of developing a good interactive relationship.

US Ambassador Richard Olson has visited Nawaz Sharif twice at his palatial estate in Raiwind to brief him on the US perspective about the bilateral relationship.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have always been complicated, but remained particularly tense after 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad and the subsequent attack on the Salala border checkpost.

The relationship, however, witnessed some improvement over the past year. Nawaz Sharif as an opposition leader in the past had been extremely critical of Washington, but soon after his party’s success expressed his desire for improved relations with the US.

“There are several factors that do not allow either of us to part,” one of Nawaz Sharif’s foreign policy advisers explained.

Pakistan has been depending heavily on economic and military aid from the United States and needs its political support at international forums and lending agencies.

The Americans, meanwhile, need Pakistan’s unconditional support for withdrawal from Afghanistan and achieving peace and stability in the war-ravaged country.

With James Dobbins as the first visitor from Washington, the Obama administration has underscored the fact that Afghanistan will be the determining factor in future of Pak-US ties.

Many in the Obama administration still have reservations about Nawaz Sharif because of his rightist leanings and conservative background.

The challenges that the incoming prime minister is likely to face in ties with the US would include developing rapport at the leadership level; dealing with hardliners in Washington; and continuation of civilian assistance package after the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid package expires next year.

The United States would be carefully watching how Nawaz Sharif approaches foreign policy issues.

Asad Haroon
A netpreneur, blogger and above all; A Human 🙂 Asad tweets from @aghaasadharoon and can also be approached on Google+

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