Hillary to Address Suspicions about US in Pak

Amid violence rocking the country, US State Secretary Hillary Clinton and Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, have arrived in Islamabad on a three-day visit to address popular concerns and suspicions about America in Pakistan.

It’s Clinton’s maiden visit to Pakistan after she took charge of her office in US President Barack Obama’s government in January.

During the visit, she is scheduled to meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and civil society leaders, focusing largely on public diplomacy.

“She is bringing a message of friendship and support to a country under tremendous pressure. She is going to discuss the IDPs (internally displaced persons) issue. She is going to focus on the real needs of Pakistani people,” said Richard Holbrooke, US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, before his departure for the visit along with Clinton.

Reports said that Clinton’s first trip, considered as one of her most important trips after assuming office, will concentrate on trying to find the causes leading to growth of anti-Americanism in the country. Also, she is believed to seek to ascertain the position of various stakeholders on bilateral matters.

According to diplomats, the US administration is upset over the reaction in the country to its recent aid package.

Clinton is expected to have intense sessions with the army leadership and the opposition to assuage their concerns over the Kerry-Lugar legislation.

She is also likely to convey the US position on the South Waziristan operation and urge Pakistan’s civil and military leadership to go for elimination of militants from the region.

Clinton’s visit comes at a time of increased bilateral tensions between the US and Pakistan. US drone attacks inside Pakistani territory, and the controversial Kerry-Lugar bill is expected to top the agenda.

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