The most significant outcome of the meetings visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry had with the Pakistani leadership is, perhaps, the decision to resume the strategic dialogue suspended since late 2010. This indicates that ties long fraught with stress may be on the verge of getting a boost, motivated by the US requirement of a peaceful drawdown from Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s exhaustion with holding the impasse, after numerous justified complaints against highhanded US behaviour.

Secretary Kerry met newly-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz at Islamabad on Thursday. He also met Imran Khan at the residence of US Charge de Affaires, Mr Richard Hoagland, after the PTI Chief refused to grace the embassy with his presence. Mr Hoagland’s house is on property that has been owned by the US Government for the last 40 years. The COAS and DG ISI were also on Secretary Kerry’s call list, although one wishes that he had met only with civilian leaders and not encouraged the perception that the army’s stakes are different than those of elected representatives and have to be considered separately.

President Obama’s invitation that Mr Kerry delivered to Mian Nawaz, to visit the US this fall, “in a month or so”, may just coincide with the UN General Assembly meeting. The invitation has been accepted and is a heartening sign of possible personal interaction leading to a better understanding of mutual concerns and the US and Pakistan setting new goals for cooperation, instead of continuously lamenting past disservices felt to have been committed on both sides.

Pakistan failed, as expected, to convince the US that the drones violated the country’s sovereignty and were counterproductive to the very objectives for which they were used, as Mr Kerry told the media that President Obama’s policy on the war on terror was absolutely legal. In this Pakistan’s disagreement with Mr Kerry’s stand must continue, and we will simply have to make a better case for stopping them once and for all.

Pakistan’s case against drones has considerably weakened with the attack on DI Khan, and Secretary Kerry pushed the point to advantage, arguing that Al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri and his ilk were violating Pakistani sovereignty. To mention in the same breath the deadly forays by a state directly invading the airspace of a protesting ally, with the vicious rampaging and rampant death and destruction caused by non-state actors, is not likely to turn either into a desirable outcome.

The much vaunted idea of Aafia Siddiqui’s return being requested by the Pakistani government, was also laid bare as a lie when Secretary Kerry clarified in response to a question, that the matter had not been bought up.

Pakistan’s long essay to get market access in the US was reiterated by Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, who said Pakistan wished to double the volume of bilateral trade to $11 billion in five years once the concession had been granted.

All in all, Secretary Kerry’s long overdue visit has been positively received. We only wish he had called on Pakistan at the same time as he flew to India, or better yet, even before.