President Barack Obama has invited Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for a visit to the United States, according to a media report on Thursday.
The dates for the visit are still being worked out though an unnamed Pakistani diplomat in Islamabad was quoted by the Dawn newspaper as saying that the visit is expected to take place towards the end of October.
Another Pakistani diplomat in Washington told the daily that one purpose of Obama’s invitation is to boost Sharif’s government, which is “seemingly under growing pressure from the military, particularly with respect to its India policy”.
Sharif’s visit to the US will be separate from his trip to New York in September to participate in the UN General Assembly session. Obama and Sharif will co-chair a summit on peacekeeping on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
There has been no official announcement from the White House regarding Obama’s invitation.
This will be Sharif’s second visit to the White House during his current tenure. He visited the US in October 2013, when he and Obama reset ties after a downturn in recent years.
The Pakistani diplomat in Islamabad was quoted as saying that Sharif’s upcoming visit is meant to expand and deepen bilateral ties.
Developments in the region too are behind Obama’s invitation, the report said. Sharif’s foreign policy aides were upbeat about the invitation and one of them said it will take the “strategic partnership to the next level”.
The US government has backed Sharif’s policy on reaching out to India. The ongoing operations against terrorists and Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace dialogue too have been appreciated.
Before Eid, Sharif sent his Special Assistant, Tariq Fatemi, to the US to prepare the grounds for his visit. In Washington, Fatemi met senior officials of the Obama administration and Congress leaders.