Army chief General Raheel Sharif’s first official visit to the United States this weekend is believed to strengthen trust between the two countries, according to The Washington Post.
The report cited an improved environment with an upward trajectory of Pakistan-US relations in light of the full-scale military offensive launched against militants in North Waziristan, that has now extended to Khyber Agency as well.
Referring to the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb against militants in North Waziristan, The Washington Post noted US officials’ statements regarding the offensive boosting their confidence in Pakistan’s commitment to combat terrorism within its borders and the operation’s success in disrupting militant groups.
“That’s based pretty much on the Pakistan ops in North Waziristan this entire summer-fall,” Lt-Gen Joseph Anderson, a senior commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan said in a video conference from the Afghan capital, claiming that the Haqqani network has been fractured by the operation.
“That has very much disrupted their efforts here and has caused them to be less effective in terms of their ability to pull off an attack here in Kabul.”
The army chief’s week-long trip coincides with growing optimism that relations among the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan are improving as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is currently visiting Pakistan.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have a historic opportunity to reset long-fraught ties following the election of democratic governments in both countries, the United States’ top diplomat in Islamabad said on November 12.
“I think there is quite genuinely a basis for a new relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Both sides are aware of this historical moment and making efforts to seize it,” Richard Olson said in a speech at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad.
As Ghani, unlike his predecessor Hamid Karzai, struck a positive note at the start of his maiden visit, the Pakistan military said the security of the two countries was ‘inextricably linked’ with each other.
The highlight of Ghani’s engagements on the first day of his trip was a visit to the GHQ in Rawalpindi soon after landing in Islamabad – an unprecedented move since it is rare that a visiting head of state stops over at the military headquarters. The visit appears to underline efforts from the two sides as they enter a new ‘era of cooperation’.