ISLAMABAD: Senior Pakistani and United States diplomats on Monday discussed progress on President Donald Trump’s Afghan strategy amid tensions over travel restrictions by both countries on diplomats, the US Embassy said.US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua in Islamabad in her second visit to Pakistan in less than a month. She paid a week-long visit to Pakistan late last month after she attended an international conference on Afghanistan in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on March 26-27. Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal confirmed the meeting on his Twitter account but did not offer more comments.A US embassy’s brief statement said Ambassador Alice Wells visited Islamabad for meetings with Foreign Secretary Janjua and other senior officials. “In her meetings, she discussed the status of the United States’ South Asia strategy and efforts to make progress on regional security and stability,” the statement said.President Trump’s strategy announced in August last year mainly focused on troops surge and increase in air strikes against the Taliban to weaken and force them to come to the negotiation table. “Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen. America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field,” Trump had stated in his policy speech.However, the latest US military assessment has presented a bleak security situation. The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which regularly provides analysis of the now-releasable control data for Congress and the public, disclosed in its report that “the percentage of districts under insurgent control or influence has doubled since 2015.” “The percentage of contested districts has increased by nearly 50 percent since 2015. The percentage of districts under government control or influence had decreased by over 20 percent since 2015,” Sigar said, just days ahead of the start of the Taliban spring offensive. President Trump had recognised that “military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan” and that “strategically applied force aims to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace.”No doubt the US has stepped up air strikes against the Taliban and increased the number of troops up to nearly 14000, but it did not have focus on political solution despite growing support in the region for a negotiated settlement. The international conference on Afghanistan in Tashkent, Uzbekistan last month called for political solution to the problem. Trump’s Afghan policy had been under fire in Pakistan as he had accused the country of giving “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror.”In early January, the US suspended security assistance to Pakistan worth $2bn after he accused Islamabad of deceiving the US and harbouring terrorists.Ambassador Wells visited Islamabad amid renewed tensions over the ‘tit for tat’ restrictions on diplomats in the two countries.Foreign Office spokesman confirmed on April 19 that the United States would impose restrictions on the movement of the country’s diplomats and consular staff in Washington from May 1.Earlier, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon said in Washington that the Trump Administration would place curbs on Pakistani diplomatic because Islamabad had “already imposed similar restrictions on US diplomats in Pakistan”.Faisal had stated during his weekly briefing that “both sides are in touch and we are hopeful that the matter will be resolved.”It is believed that the issue of curbs on the diplomats figured prominently in the talks; however, the US embassy’s statement did not mention the issue.Pakistan and the US announced restrictions on diplomats after a US Embassy vehicle driven by Colonel Joseph Emanuel Hall, defence and air attaché of the US Embassy in Islamabad, killed a Pakistani motorcyclist, Ateeq Mir, in Islamabad on April 7.A police report and another bike rider, who was injured in the same accident, informed investigators that the US diplomat had jumped signals on 7th Avenue-Margalla Road junction.Published in Daily Times, April 24th 2018.