ISLAMABAD: US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman is due to arrive in the capital city today (Friday) on a day-long trip amid gradual improvement in the otherwise troubled ties between Washington and Islamabad.
Grossman will be the first high-ranking civilian American official to visit Pakistan since the reopening of vital land routes for foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan, in early July.
President Barack Obama’s point-man for the region will meet Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and the senior civil and military leadership to discuss the Pak-US cooperation, a Foreign Office official said on condition of anonymity.
He added that the discussions were expected to focus on reviving the strategic dialogue and the Afghan reconciliation process.
Grossman, the official said, has now been primarily focusing on efforts to bring the Taliban on the negotiating table.
The top American diplomat is likely to discuss the outcome of the recently-held meeting of a Pakistan, US, Afghan working group that is discussing modalities to provide safe passage to Afghan Taliban, who are willing to enter the peace process.
Pakistan, which is considered crucial for any peace deal, is believed to have offered to facilitate the safe passage but insisted that the intra-Afghan dialogue is a prerequisite for the success of any initiative.
The Foreign Office official said Grossman would also bring up a recent decision by the US to declare the Haqqani network a terrorist organisation.
Islamabad is thought to have offered no opposition to the move as it argues that the Haqqani network is an Afghan group. The US envoy’s trip comes just days before a crucial meeting between Foreign Minister Khar and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton next week in Washington.
His trip also coincides with planned protest rallies by the country’s religious parties against the airing of an anti-Islam video clip in the US.
The Pakistan government has condemned the video clip saying it provoked “hatred, discord and enmity within societies and between peoples of various faiths.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2012.
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