ISLAMABAD - Only a day after Pakistan and Russia signed a historic military pact, US President Barack Obama Friday called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and expressed desire to improve bilateral ties between the two countries.

According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement, the US president expressed his desire to take US-Pakistan ties ‘one step beyond’ current levels.

The ministry also said that Nawaz and Obama discussed Pakistan-US bilateral relations and the evolving situation in the region in a very pleasant exchange of ideas. Nawaz expressed satisfaction at the upward trajectory of Pakistan-US relations.

President Obama noted that Pakistan-US relations were strong and robust. He was pleased to see that the government had determined the right economic priorities and was successfully overcoming challenges.

The call also comes at a time when COAS General Raheel Sharif is in the US on his maiden visit.  The two leaders (Nawaz and Obama) agreed to stay engaged to further strengthen Pakistan-US relations in their common desire to promote peace and prosperity in South Asia.

The US president informed the premier of his forthcoming visit to India. Recalling his invitation extended in Washington, the prime minister conveyed the expectation of Pakistan of welcoming Obama in Islamabad sometime in the future.

Obama assured Nawaz that he would undertake a visit to Pakistan as soon as the situation normalises in the country.

While referring to his own visit to India earlier this year, Nawaz lamented that subsequent unfortunate steps on India’s part, including cancellation of foreign secretary level talks and the unprovoked firing across the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary indicated that India was averse to normalisation of relations with Pakistan and that the onus was on India to create a conducive environment for resumption of dialogue.

Media reports said that Obama expressed his understanding for Pakistan’s position. The prime minister further urged President Obama to take up the cause of Kashmir with the Indian leadership, as its early resolution would bring enduring peace, stability and economic cooperation to Asia.

Discussing the regional situation, the prime minister referred to the improvement of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations and pointed to President Ashraf Ghani’s recent visit to Islamabad. The US president appreciated efforts in this regard and called it pivotal for the peace and stability in the region.

Karzai says terror war


Separately, stressing that terrorism perpetrated and supported from "outside" is the main challenge for Afghanistan, its former President Hamid Karzai on Friday criticised dualism in US policy towards Pakistan stating he had told Barack Obama that US should not run with the hare and hunt with the hound.

Karzai also asked New Delhi "to do more" in defence cooperation with Afghanistan and hoped that New Delhi will adopt a "more proactive" policy in the future. He said India and China should join hands to fight extremism in the region.

The former Afghan President rued that he had made 20 trips to Pakistan but was unable to succeed completely in improving ties with that country, which he has often accused of promoting terror in Afghanistan.

When asked about his earlier comment on asking a house owner to catch a thief and leaving the door open for the thief while describing US policy on Pakistan, Karzai, who was speaking at HT Leadership Summit here, said it was a Persian proverb and there was a similar meaning English proverb of "running with the hare and hunting with the hound".

"That is what I believed they did and that is what they should not be doing," he said.  Asked if he had conveyed the same to the US, Karzai said he had told American President Obama during a video conference and the response he got was "silence".

"We moved to other subjects," he quipped. Karzai said US should have gone after the terror sanctuaries in Pakistan.

Thanking India for the continued support to his country, Karzai said, "we need India to do more as to engage in bringing stronger capacity to the Afghan forces, Afghan military".

He said India is well suited to train Afghan officers and civil services.  "India is also industrially, in terms of production of military equipment, well placed to fulfil Afghanistan's need and India now has the ability to do that," he said.

Stressing that it has been Afghanistan's desire, rather than demand, he had placed it before the Indian government repeatedly.

"They did come forward with some assistance but then India, like any other old civilisation would be, is quite a cautious country. I hope it will overtime give rise to a more proactive policy," he said.

He said that New Delhi responded very well by providing thousands of scholarships and this has been a very satisfactory relationship.

The former Afghan President said that India has been a "valid partner" in nation building.

"I thank Prime Minister Modi for his commitment" to Afghanistan's future, he said.

Karzai, who met with Modi on Thursday, said that the Afghan people count on India as a "true friend, strategic ally and a great anchor of stability and prosperity".

He underlined that it is extremely important for India and China to join hands in fighting extremism and terrorism in the region.