A high-ranking US delegation will visit Pakistan this week to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations between Washington and Islamabad.
Analysts have said one of the topics of discussion will probably be Afghanistan, given the rising tension between Pakistan and the Taliban.
According to a statement issued by the State Department, the delegation, led by the department’s Counselor Derek Chollet, will visit “Bangladesh and Pakistan February 14-18 to meet with senior government officials, civil society members, and business leaders to highlight the importance of our bilateral partnership and reaffirm our countries’ shared goals.”
The statement added that Chollet “will meet with senior officials [of Pakistan] to discuss strengthening economic ties, cooperating to address the impacts of the climate crisis, and expanding the people-to-people connections between the United States and Pakistan.
“The delegation will also reaffirm the strong security cooperation between our nations,” the statement noted.
A number of international relations analysts meanwhile said that the main goal of the US delegation is to assess the differences between the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Sayeed Mahdi Afzali, an international relations analyst, said: “I think Pakistan is an important country in the affairs of Afghanistan. And recently a new tension raised between the Taliban political figures and Pakistan, as a result, I think that the Americans have noticed that the Taliban is gradually getting out of control.”
He added that a major part of the discussion would focus on ways to maintain “cohesion” between the Taliban and that “the Taliban coherence is extremely important for the interests of the United States.”
However, the delegation’s visit to Pakistan also comes amid Islamabad’s growing economic problems, made worse by last year’s devastating floods.
The State Department said that the US delegation will also “convey U.S. condolences for the recent terrorist attack at a Peshawar mosque, and reaffirm our solidarity with the Pakistani people as they continue to recover from the devastating 2022 floods.”
According to reports, the nuclear-armed country is now dealing with a full-scale economic crisis.
Siyar Qureshi, a financial and banking analyst, believes that Pakistan is on the verge of bankruptcy, which will have a negative effect on Afghanistan.
“Because Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian crisis, it can damage Afghanistan more than [what was damaged in] 20 years of war and 97 percent of the population is at risk of poverty; they need humanitarian assistance from the international community more now than at any time, and the bankruptcy of Pakistan’s economy will also harm Afghanistan’s economy,” Qureshi said.
Recently, disputes between senior Taliban officials were aired in public when the group’s acting interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani lashed out about “monopolizing” power.