US pushing Islamabad, Kabul to enhance ties

ISLAMABAD - In connection with the US efforts to bridge the gap between Islamabad and Kabul, President of Afghanistan will visit Pakistan as early as possible, diplomatic sources told The Nation on Saturday. When contacted, official sources confirmed this report, however, they could not give exact date of visit of President Hamid Karzai to Islamabad. "It appears that President Hamid Karzai would be the first high ranking guest of the government and people of Pakistan in 2011," officials said. However, Foreign Office did not confirm the same report. Well placed sources said that US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton believes that a gap between Islamabad and Kabul still exists while extensive discussion were going on in Washington to ascertain how to bring the two sides closer. Meanwhile, key officials of Obama administration believe that Washington remained successful to a great extent to remove the misunderstandings between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Sources said officials of Obama administration claim to have pretty good success in terms of narrowing the gap between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They have been actively engaged in a series of engagements. Meanwhile, a trilateral meeting held between the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan last year, played important role in bridging the gap between Islamabad and Afghanistan. "We have done a series of bilateral and trilateral engagements. We've encouraged the Govt of Afghanistan to meet with the Govt of Pakistan to come on same page to defeat al Qaeda and Taliban," sources quoted a key official of Obama administration MR Ruggiero as saying a couple of days back. Sources told TheNation on good authority that President Hamid Karzai is planning to visit Islamabad soon that is expected to further enhance the bilateral relationship between the two neighbouring countries. According to sources, Ruggiero claimed a couple of days back that the US was constantly pushing Pakistan and Afghanistan to enhance their bilateral relationships. "President Hamid Karzai is visiting Islamabad soon, meanwhile PM Gilani just went to Kabul about a week ago. So we continue to push that. One of the key deliverables that we've achieved in terms of that is the transit trade agreement between Afghan-istan and Pakistan," Ruggiero told officials of White House on 16th in Washington, sources said. Same diplomatic sources told The Nation on good authority that White House believes there are sanctuaries in Pakistan that extremist groups can operate from. However, on the other hand, Obama administration was satisfied over the steps taken by government of Pakistan to quell militancy and extremism from its tribal areas, said the sources. In addition to bring Pakistan and Afghanistan closer, Obama administration believes that President Obama's policies, decided in December 2009, have made progress over the past 12 months in implementing and achieved core objectives in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the sources.