WASHINGTON - A summer garden party hosted by Pakistan’s Ambassador Sherry Rehman drew attendance from prominent Washington personalities including senior American administration officials, key law makers and a host of writers and experts.This A-list of Washington glitterati at the annual summer barbeque underscored Pakistan’s importance to US policy and opinion makers in the regional scenario.“Looking at the convivial tone of this event, you would never think the two countries are not in anything but strategic embrace,” remarked a senior Administration official. “This just goes to show we are all keen to use opportunities to do business and build ties.”It was a testament to the convening power of the ambassador that for the first time a member of the Cabinet visited the Pakistan residence.”Secretary Transport Ray LaHood and his wife were surrounded the whole evening with media persons, as was USAID Administrator Dr Rajiv Shah and Under-Secretary of State, Tara Sonenshine. Ms Sonenshine has been using her new office of Public Diplomacy to engage groups of Pakistani and American media people in a series of joint outreach seminars with Ambassador Rehman over the last few weeks in Washington.The real signal of the strength of Embassy ties, however, was seen by the unprecedented show from the White House National Security team in full strength, exuding renewed interest in Pakistan, with star billing going to the normally reclusive National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, who remained deep in conversation with the Ambassador most of the time.White House advisor on Pakistan and Afghanistan Gen, retd Douglas Lute, who is tipped to head an expanded National Security regional framework soon was meanwhile seen engaging with both media and think tank heavyweights on the way ahead for Afghanistan and Pakistan amid election year distractions. Director Pakistan Affairs at the State Department Tim Lenderking, and White House Director Tamana Salikuddin, Ambassador Capricia Marshall were among many Obama Administration officials who were seen in small huddles trying to untangle the web of obstacles challenging the Pak-US relationship at the ambassador’s residence.The event, also attended by Pentagon, Treasury and officials from other US departments, offered a popular mix of Pakistani barbecue and sufi-pop music to an eclectic gathering that included a number of noted think tank experts, journalists, anchors and writers. Despite a vote on pending legislation in progress at the Capitol Hill, a number of prominent lawmakers including Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairperson Senate Intelligence Committee, Congressman Ed Royce, Congressman Jack Kingston,Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, co-chair of Pakistani caucus graced the occasion.“Senator Feinstein has been a new key ally in rebuilding bilateral ties between the two countries, and her support to the relationship is very helpful’ said a Pakistani official who works the Hill with the Ambassador. “Ambassador Sherry Rehman is now the most familiar diplomat on Capitol Hill, making friends up and down both Houses, and the presence of so many power figures at her soiree speaks of her tenacious lobbying in American power centers, as well as Pakistan’s crucial importance in Washington,” a Congressional staffer said.“She is known here as the consummate campaigner you can’t say no to, and frankly she speaks to issues that worry us without flinching or holding back on what we too need to do. We get clarity from her, she has access and good offices everywhere, in even the security community, and that is key to unlocking knots.” Besides dozens of chiefs of staff, legislative directors and staffers working in important committees on both chambers on the Hill – the Senate and the House of Representative – were present on the occasion, which provided an opportunity for informal interaction discussion on Pakistan-US relations.Many legislative staffers were seen talking animatedly to senior embassy officials, who have been for the first time deployed on the Hill by the ambassador in full bench strength. “ The Pakistan Embassy works as a very effective team now, with new Deputy Chief Mission, Asad Khan matching the Ambassador’s high voltage outreach with systematic follow-ups at senior staffer level. Even at the party, they were seen strategising the next day’s meetings on the Hill with plans to invest time with new Pakistan friends such as Chairman David Drier, as well with detractors such as Senator Rand Paul. “Events such as this help break some of the ice that builds up in a challenging time, and tonight I honestly hope that the new light I see at the end of this tunnel is not a moment we fail to seize. The idea is that if one door closes we open another, on both sides, to create a corridor of opportunities that can be explored. We had some good conversations here with key people in the Administration, as well as legislators, and I think we have critical follow-up to do this whole week on ideas and suggestions floated, “ said Ambassador Rehman when asked for closing comments.