Roller-coaster ties: PM, aides finalise agenda of ‘tough’ Washington trip

Published: October 15, 2013

DESIGN: JAMAL KHURSHID

 DESIGN: JAMAL KHURSHID Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE In a meeting with his top aides on foreign affairs and the top military leadership on Tuesday, the premier discussed the contours of the agenda of his scheduled visit to the United States next week.  PHOTO: PID
ISLAMABAD: 

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given final touches to the agenda of his upcoming meeting with US President Barack Obama in which the latter is expected to solicit Islamabad’s support for negotiations with the Afghan Taliban.

President Obama is also likely to seek Pakistan’s assistance for ensuring a trouble-free withdrawal of US-led foreign troops from Afghanistan in December 2014 when the prime minister meets him on October 23 in Washington.

In a meeting with his top aides on foreign affairs and the top military leadership on Tuesday, the premier discussed the contours of the agenda of his scheduled visit to the United States next week. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Adviser to PM on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Special Assistant to PM Tariq Fatemi and ISI Director-General Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam were present.

He held the meeting to get their input on what is being deemed the toughest diplomatic assignment for him so far in his third stint as prime minister.

“The meeting discussed matters pertaining to national security and reviewed the overall security situation of the country,” said an official statement issued from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The premier will be visiting Washington at a time when the United States is desperate to ink a strategic pact with Afghanistan, negotiate a possible deal with the Afghan Taliban for an honourable exit and at the same time, securing its strategic interests in the region.

The huddle at Prime Minister’s Office came just a day after Obama’s point-man for Pakistan and Afghanistan James Dobbins concluded his Islamabad visit and met him Sartaj Aziz, Chaudhry Nisar and General Kayani individually.

“All foreign engagements were discussed in the meeting,” Tariq Fatemi told The Express Tribune. Asked if prospects of talks with Pakistani Taliban were also reviewed, he responded: “Not to my knowledge.”

“All regional security issues [...] were discussed, but the main focus was the prime minister’s visit to the United States,” said an official of Prime Minister’s Office.

Besides seeking help in the resumption of stalled negotiations with the Afghan Taliban, the US president is likely to ask for Pakistan’s cooperation in withdrawing military hardware from Afghanistan ahead of the end of NATO’s combat operations next year.

During the previous regime, Pakistan’s parliament had adopted a resolution in which it had made it clear that Pakistan will not allow US or NATO to use its land routes for transportation of military hardware to and from Afghanistan.

The Nawaz Sharif government that took power this May would have to deal with this important clause of the resolution which was passed unanimously and PML-N, although in opposition at that time, had supported it. The resolution had allowed the movement of non-combat supplies through Pakistani land routes.

White House spokesman Jay Carney has already predicted that it will be a tough visit where according to him some “frank discussions about some serious challenges and some serious concerns” will take place.

Meanwhile, Foreign Office officials said Pakistan has prepared a set of its concerns, which the prime minister will candidly convey to the US president. Officials said Prime Minister Sharif, in his meeting with the US president, will also take up the issue of drone strikes in FATA. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militants has offered ceasefire in return for an end to US drone strikes.

Meanwhile, amid stiff resistance from the United States on Pakistan’s plans to import gas from Iran, a special cell in the foreign ministry has been working on costs and benefits of the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project. In case the US president asks Islamabad to shelve the project, the prime minister can present his case and elucidate Pakistan’s urgent energy needs to him, said officials.

Pakistan-US relations frayed since its unilateral raid to kill Osama bin Laden. The relations further soured when a US airstrike killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers along the Salala checkpost later the same year.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2013.

Reader Comments (33)

  • ali
    Oct 15, 2013 - 11:13PM

    Beggars cannot be choosers. This ruling elite has made us slave of the west. Only a revolution will change the fate of the nation.

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  • unbelievable
    Oct 15, 2013 - 11:47PM

    Obama has a poor view of Pakistan and he hasn’t even talked to a Pakistani since he informed Zardari of OBL death – If all Pakistan wants to talk about is aid and a stop to drones then the meeting is going to be short and likely the last one held with Obama.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Oct 16, 2013 - 12:00AM

    The Prime Minister and the Government of Pakistan will do what ever US wants to do to exit from Afghanistan, but it is already written on the wall that Prime Minister and his entourage will not be able to convince US President Obama and his government to stop the done strikes on Pakistan.

    This is the dilemma of Pakistan, what else shall I write more?

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  • Adnan
    Oct 16, 2013 - 12:07AM

    I wonder if he will comment on the sandwiches (a la the GHQ briefing on Kargil)?

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  • Rex Minor
    Oct 16, 2013 - 12:25AM

    By now Mr Sharif should know what to expect from Mr Obam since his emissary must have informed him. The Prime Minister of Pakistan meeting with the USA has somewhat been softened down by the preceeding visit of Malala, the teenager from the North.

    The Principles which must guide his talks with the unpredictable and unreliable ally who is now called the King, are very simple, National interests which includes the security for the people of Pakistan and non-interfearance of the foreign power in the domestic affairs of the country.
    Straight talk not diplomacy with double talk are the needs of the time and are easily understandable by the contrahands.

    No deal on drones or sovereignty; if not possibled then be it and future diplomatic relations should reflect it.

    Rex Minor

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  • Anjaan
    Oct 16, 2013 - 12:33AM

    It will be another round of bargain on the transactions, and the amount of dollar payment to be made to Pakistan ……… there will be two components for US payments, one is for doing some jobs, and another is for not doing some jobs that harm US interests. The most important of all, is the payment to Pakistan for facilitating American exit from the region through Pakistan.Recommend

  • ModiFied
    Oct 16, 2013 - 12:50AM

    First of all pray that US government shutdown ends, else whole meeting will be just a waste of time. Secondly, be prepared to listen Obama lectures on terrorism, Hafiz Saeed, and Malala. Taking Malala along might be very helpful as she already has developed good repo with Obama, his family and US media. Iran pipeline should not be a big deal as US itself is trying to have better relations with Iran.

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  • Rex Minor
    Oct 16, 2013 - 12:51AM

    @unbelievable:
    Knowledge is always a virtue! It is Obama the afroam. King who requested to meet with the sixteen year old Pakistani girl Malala, who told the American President in front of the First Lady to stop droning of people in Pakistan!

    Rex Minor

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  • waqas
    Oct 16, 2013 - 1:50AM

    They need us nor we they need to get out of afghanistan peacefully so pm should be strong about its own country demands

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  • JJ
    Oct 16, 2013 - 2:01AM

    Mr.OBAMA meets Nigerian President but refuse to meet PM of Pakistan nd gave him date of 23rd October why?Our PM NOW REFUSE TO GO THERE.CAN HE?

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  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Oct 16, 2013 - 2:45AM

    So Principal has called Nawaz Sharif to his office to discuss his report card. Pakistan got F for OBL, D minus for giving Jamat ul Dawa money in the budget, F in financing and training non state actors to various countries mainly Afghanistan and India, F in sheltering Quetta Sura and other Al Qaeda members on deck of play cards, D minus for law and order for joe average Pakistani and specially the minorities and in this case the Principal is Christian and Church group wants there ounce of flesh for there followers, D minus for relations with India who can help Pakistan in technology and trade.

    Nawaz should be honest with the Principal and tell him straight forward no PR No Bull that mistakes have been made and he is willing to come clean and needs global help in putting the Genie name Terrorism/Good or Bad or Punjabi Taliban/non state actors. If he tries PR and try to blame presence of India in Afghanistan or Kashmir or drone than he will be minimizing and doing blame shifting and waste Principals one hour. Principal is use to hearing spin from the head of other 169 countries and knows good leaders from bad. Lesson to learn from meeting between MMS and Principal. Watch the body language and respect for MMS. It has to do with learning about economy. It is rare to have a head of state who is also economist. What new knowledge in economy NS can offer to Principal so that when he meets Michelle at the end of the day and say I learned something new today?

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  • Ali
    Oct 16, 2013 - 3:02AM

    Obama will not go for any attention to pakistan’s request.He will retain his current policy and will instruct pakistan to curb its terrorist network.

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  • Ali S
    Oct 16, 2013 - 8:01AM

    @ali:

    A revolution would mean people like you stepping out of their air-conditioned rooms to risk their lives on the street. Do most readers of this paper (who are relatively well-off and educated) really want that? A better course of action might be to give in completely to US and the West – since it’s becoming obvious that we can’t handle the mess created in our backyard on our own.

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  • Malik
    Oct 16, 2013 - 11:13AM

    Mr. Nawaz Sharif is here with a purpose – and purpose is simple to disrupt democracy in Pakistan. Although it would have been way too easy to install true capable and democratic leaders to run the government, the otherwise opted for different stance mainly to give hope to extremist that their thinking will finally be bestowed upon 180 Million social and liberal Muslims who in any way do not look and think like them.

    Corruption and Extremism – still at large to create an environment to ease killing of more human beings in this part of the world, and make their lives more miserable. — Time is to Challenge the Change, and the proclaimed Leader who used the idea of Change to fool the majority of this country – leading to more confusion and distracting them like sheep. It’s an amazing fact that some can have expectations from the new PM – that he can stand up for some of the things that may in some way benefit the country.

    A person whose position is dependent on the support of US and India, who do not have public support – a person who is considered as one of the most corrupt person of the country, and his personal capability to pursue or sell any view point is dim – how can he save the future of this country. Under no condition whatever he says is considered as either foolish or asking for more personnel gains. He in no way is Leader of Pakistan. Else is considered as western puppet inside and outside Pakistan. That what he is, and what he will and should remain to be.

    Question is who is leading the country than – Answer is No-one. Corruption, foolishness and in experience is all what we see in the start of 2014. Means a weak Leadership and a distracted nation. With no sense of directions what to do, who will do that, how to do that and when to do that.

    They think they can make Mullahs our Masters – They are wrong!

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  • Pti
    Oct 16, 2013 - 12:08PM

    Once a poodle always a poodle. It’s a payback time for winning “free and fair election”

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  • Ashkenazi
    Oct 16, 2013 - 1:14PM

    What is so tough about begging?

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  • Sherif
    Oct 16, 2013 - 1:47PM

    The way US treats pakistan as like slaves.The country have no cash,neither politicians have any dignity.The country itself lost self respect and even small countries in africa starts comparing them with pakistan.

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  • ishrat salim
    Oct 16, 2013 - 2:28PM

    Another most important agenda is to seek appointments in place of Gen Kiyani and Gen Wyne….PM is carrying a list of probables….this is sickening….

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  • usman786
    Oct 16, 2013 - 3:23PM

    @It Is (still) Economy Stupid:
    Obama can tell her how to make Sri Paey…what else to expect from NS and AAZ. Atleast ask them to give us some reward for this war no just ‘peanuts’. our loans are hi due to this war and build one motorway for wdr focres on west side of Indus

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  • Rex Minor
    Oct 16, 2013 - 3:33PM

    @Malik:

    Extremism is the political movement towards the ‘Right’. This is not confined to Pakistan or muslim majority countries per say but spread throughout most developed and emerging economies of the world. The equilibrim between the rich and poor has been lost. The USA economy receives a boost of two million new immigrants every year, however, the share of Europeans in this is shrinking and therefore it is the Ameria which is living he nightmare and not ny other country at present.

    Rex Minor

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  • Hedgefunder
    Oct 16, 2013 - 4:14PM

    @waqas:
    “They need us nor we they need to get out of afghanistan peacefully so pm should be strong about its own country demands”

    Don’t be too sure about it ! Beggars can not be choosers either !
    Pakistan lost any leverage with US Admin, when they found & took out OBL from the Army’s back yard ! !
    Pakistan self importance in the region is diminishing pretty fast hence the flare ups on LOC and possibly further duplicities in Afghan end game too.
    Pakistan will want Taliban in power in Kabul, however this policy is going to backfire very badly and pretty soon, as those Talibs have become very ambitious and see Pakistan as extension of their rule in Afghanistan.
    Its been obvious that neither the Army or any Law Enforcement Agencies are capable of dealing with these elements, who are causing mayhem on daily basis on the streets of the Nation.

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  • zarzan
    Oct 16, 2013 - 4:16PM

    Nawaz has the upper hand because !) US desperately wants to have his troops leave Afghanistan 2) Wants Pak to assist in US negotiating a deal with Afghan Taliban without losing face. Both of these are vital for US and the aces are in Pakistans hand.

    In return Pak should ask for; 1) US pressure on India to stop terrorist funding activities via Afghanistan and to publicly acknowledge India as hub of terrorism. 2) Resolution of Kashmir openly and actively 3) More active and high profile role of UNMOGIP at LOC.4) Indian RAW activities in funding Pakistani Taliban and carrying out incidents like church bombing in Peshawar 5) Recognise Pak as regional power-already accepted privately but we want open acknowledgement 6) Drone programe to be jointly with Pakistan 6)Trade expansion and less Aid contributions.

    And to remind Obama that everytime US is in a mess, it turns to Pakistan only 1) SEATO 2) Garry Powers U2 , Budabay 3) US reproachment with China 4) Russian Invasion of Afghanistan 5) US invasion of Afghanistan 2001 6) Catching 1000 Al Qaeds operatives which led to Osama BL 7) Helping US troops in Somalia 1999 8) and now to get out of Afghanistan.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Oct 16, 2013 - 4:20PM

    @JJ:
    Mr.OBAMA meets Nigerian President but refuse to meet PM of Pakistan nd gave him date of 23rd October why?Our PM NOW REFUSE TO GO THERE.CAN HE?

    Yes , he can refuse, but can he really afford too?
    When the Boss calls, you attend and hope he is in generous mood to give some more Aid and Loans, as the Gravy train has stopped feeding you and soon the reality is going to hit where it hurts most !
    The Land of Pure has too many Masters to please, Saudis, Chinese, Americans !
    Who else is it likely to turn to next possibly Iranians for free pipeline and gas too !

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  • Hedgefunder
    Oct 16, 2013 - 4:58PM

    @It Is (still) Economy Stupid:
    LOL ! Its a shame that in USA, there is no more Corporal Punishment, otherwise with report like this, one would assume with certainty that Cane stick would be the order of the day rather than verbal bashing !
    Not much is going to be provided by Obama, as he really has taken dislike to Pakistan, after OBL fiasco and multiple abuse of funds and expenses in WOT, while at same time their duplicity in the whole affair.
    This is no longer a Failed State, but likely to implode from within in next few years.

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  • vasan
    Oct 16, 2013 - 5:11PM

    zarzan : How can u miss out Civil Nuclear Cooperation with Pakistan and cancellation of the same with INdia. Keep dreaming, my friend. The day is not far away when Pakistan’s bluffs are called off.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Oct 16, 2013 - 5:12PM

    @zarzan:
    Yes ! The world is Flat and Pakistan is centre of the Earth ! All roads lead to Pakistan !!!!!!!!!
    Which holy medicine are you on ?
    After 60 years not much has changed, nor much learned, its pretty obvious !

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  • John
    Oct 16, 2013 - 5:31PM

    @zarzan:
    Ha ha your statement is funny…Your country has no leverage in world stage and your masters considered your country like puppet.You have to obey what the masters ask to do.Caught red handed during OBL raid.The best way to get good chit is to curb terrorism,arrest culprits like dawood and Hafeez and hand over to international community and accept LOC.

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  • Uza Syed
    Oct 16, 2013 - 6:31PM

    I hope that our PM is able to present our point of view and can negotiate whatever it’s they intend negotiating with some self-respect, what else can I hope and wish when I suspect our PM qualifications and calibre? I’d have liked a better man being in this position at this critical juncture in history. Someone like President Musharraf or even Benazir could be more suitable for any such role and occasion.

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  • joy
    Oct 16, 2013 - 6:38PM

    @ zarzan: Sir, what thought provoking you have made! I am sure if Mr Sharif raises the issues which you have recommended, Mr Obama will at once impose sanctions against India and may even launch an all-out attack..you deserve to be Pakistan Prime Minister’s foreign policy adviser:)

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  • Tanu
    Oct 16, 2013 - 7:26PM

    @zarzan:
    While you are at it, you might as well demand that nawaz be made ameerul momeneen of the united states of america! Afterall Pakistan is such agreat super power and the rest of the world cannot exist without it! RIGHT?? What is the harm in Demanding?

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  • unbelievable
    Oct 16, 2013 - 7:29PM

    @zarzan:

    Nawaz has the upper hand because !) US
    desperately wants to have his troops
    leave Afghanistan 2) Wants Pak to
    assist in US negotiating a deal with
    Afghan Taliban without losing face.
    Both of these are vital for US and the
    aces are in Pakistans hand.

    I guess you must have been visiting another planet when Pakistan thought it had the USA over a barrel when it cutoff the NATO supply line? That extortion didn’t turn out well for Pakistan and you didn’t get an apology or money demanded – in hindsight you were made to look weak and foolish in the eyes of the World. You really want to repeat that?
    .
    In case you didn’t know it. The USA is your largest export customer and also has enough influence to cut off trade with many European customers – USA/Europe constitutes most of your high margin exports. It also indirectly controls the IMF and other World banks which Pakistan depends on. It controls whether you receive spare part for your high tech “made in America” air force. It also has enough diplomatic leverage to arguably get Pakistan labeled as sponsor of terrorism with all the embargo’s associated with it. And lets not forget the USA always has the ability to enter into a defense treaty with your nemesis India – providing India with a missile defense shield should make the Pakistan military pucker. When it comes to leverage my money’s on the Americans.

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  • Oct 17, 2013 - 12:57AM

    We are looking forward to the upcoming meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif. We must all realize by now that the US-PAk relationship is of great importance to both countries, and for the peace and security of the region. We hope that this meeting can help resolve any remaining differences between the two countries. As Ambassador Richard Olson has said, “The United States looks forward to continuing cooperation with Pakistan in ways that are compatible with Pakistan’s economic, environmental, and security needs and with US international commitments and policies.”

    Haroon Ahmad
    DET – U.S. Central Command

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  • who believes you
    Oct 17, 2013 - 1:28AM

    @Rex Minor: And you pretend that you are a foreigner with no relation to Pakistan let alone your actual homeland of Waziristan.

    Anyway, what you fail to understand is that Pakistan holds absolutely no cards.

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