US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, is in Pakistan on an unannounced visit to discuss bilateral security matters and efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan.
McMaster arrived in Islamabad on Monday, a day after a stop in Afghanistan where he warned that the Trump administration might take a tougher stance on Pakistan.
McMaster, the first official from the Trump administration to visit Pakistan, met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and discussed various issues.
The prime minister´s office issued a statement saying McMaster had assured Islamabad that the Trump administration was “committed to strengthening bilateral relations and working with Pakistan, to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the wider South Asian region.”
Pakistan also reaffirmed its commitment to working with the US to support peace efforts for Afghanistan and reconciliation with the Taliban, according to the statement.
McMaster also met with Sharif's foreign policy adviser, Sartaj Aziz.
The US and its NATO allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and removed the Taliban from power following the 9/11 attacks in the US. However, insecurity persists throughout the country.
McMaster's trip is being closely monitored for clues as to the new administration´s strategy in the region.
The visit also comes amid calls by US military commanders for the deployment of “several thousand” additional troops, on top of the 8,400 American forces already in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan frequently accuses Pakistan of providing safe haven to Taliban militants.
"We have hoped that Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after these groups less selectively than they have in the past and the best way to pursue their interest in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy not through the use of proxies that engage in violence," McMaster said in an interview with Afghan media.
Trump’s envoy, however, refused to say whether a new strategy would include a boost to US military presence in the country.
"Well, part of the new strategy will be what the president decides it is. What we are doing here is to…President Trump to decide, really, what is the best course of action to begin to accelerate progress in the war and to help bring lasting peace and security to the Afghan people," McMaster said.
On Thursday, the US military dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb, the so-called GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), on suspected Daesh targets in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar Province.
The attack triggered global shock waves, with some suggesting Afghanistan was used as a testing ground for the weapon.