Mr. Kerry and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held discussions on a “range of bilateral security issues, including on counterterrorism, on combating safe havens, and on issues that are important to the future of Afghanistan, to Pakistan and to us,” a senior U.S. official who spoke on background told reporters traveling with the secretary.
The Taliban ditched the process last March, citing U.S. inaction on its demand to release five high-value detainees at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“Given the kind of historic nature of where Pakistan is right now, we wanted to be holier than the pope on this one on staying away until — while the electoral process unfolded,” the U.S. official said. “Given the state of conspiracy theorists, given the state of anything else, we did not want to lead anyone to conclude anything about where our interests may lie.”
“Originally, Secretary Kerry was hopeful that he would be able to go to Pakistan on this trip as well, but as the government there really enters a very historic period in this electoral process, we wanted to fully respect those institutions and the ongoing process, and so not travel there this time but go there at an appropriate time in the future,” the official added.
Pakistan is scheduled to hold elections in May. This will be the South Asian nation’s first peaceful transition of power between civilian administrations.
Pervez Musharraf, a former army chief who seized power in a coup in 1999 and ruled Pakistan until 2008, returned from exile over the weekend to participate in the elections.
The U.S. and its allies intend to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Pakistan’s civilian government has said that it favors an Afghan-led peace process and that its strategy toward its western neighbor has changed.
Some analysts are skeptical about the new line coming out of Islamabad.