Obama's administration also welcomed Sharif by releasing $1.6 billion in aid -- mostly for the military -- that had been frozen because of past disputes -- especially the high tensions over the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
Such statements and steps on the part of the U.S. is very supportive for Pakistan in the time when it is also worried about the serious crises and security threats due to the prevailing war against terrorism. Especially in the face of an abrupt U.S. troop withdrawal in 2014 from Afghanistan, as it could create further security threats and unseen problems for Pakistan's government -- besides fear of a further influx of Afghan refugees.
According to the UN refugee agency, Pakistan hosts more than 1.6 million registered Afghans since the aggression of the USSR in 1990, the largest and most protracted refugee population in the world.
After the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan after their defeat, Pakistan was left behind, isolated and alone, like collateral damage. It's the reason the troop withdrawal issue was high on the agenda of the Sharif/Obama meeting.
Sharif was elected prime minister in June in a historic election that marked Pakistan's first civilian transfer of power after the completion of a full term by a democratically elected government. The U.S. government hailed the peaceful transition of one democratically elected government to another as an enormous milestone for Pakistan.
Now pro-democratic wings believe that democracy is finally taking root in Pakistan, and Sharif is the most experienced politician who has held high office of state in Pakistan, and as such he can recall the mistakes of the past, including relations with its neighboring countries Afghanistan and India.
The main hurdle in maintaining good-neighbor relations is the longstanding dispute with India over Kashmir. There was some inside talk that Sharif advisers had advised him to ask Obama for help in solving the Kashmir dispute. But before the meeting, U.S. officials made it clear that India and Pakistan should settle this matter, lowering the hopes that Sharif would be able to gain any extraordinary support from the U.S. on this matter.
The others issues and challenges that were discussed in the meeting included Pakistani priorities of boosting the economy, developing energy resources, promoting education, and combating extremist and terrorism activities.
The fragile economic situation in Pakistan is illustrated by the rapid decline of the Pak-rupee against the dollar. The rupee exchange is now about 106 to 107 to a U.S. dollar, causing inflation and price hikes besides bearing extra financial burden in the return of foreign loans.
The U.S. government is in a position to play an important and effective role in the future of Pakistan. Because, naturally, clapping needs two hands.
Pakistan is deserving of such support, as it has been targeted after extending its cooperation to the U.S. in the war against terrorism. As a result, hundreds of its innocent citizens, and defense and law enforcement personnel were either killed or injured in subsequent terrorism attacks, which also caused serious setbacks to law and order and the country's economic situation.