This is the first visit by a U.S. Secretary of Defence in over three years and comes in the backdrop of a NATO blockade by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI).

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Monday met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and stressed on the importance of keeping the ground supply routes out of Afghanistan open.

This is the first visit by a U.S. Secretary of Defence in over three years and comes in the backdrop of a NATO blockade by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI).

A statement from the U.S. embassy, Islamabad said that during his meeting with Mr. Sharif, Mr. Hagel reviewed shared concerns regarding the activities of terrorist groups, including the Haqqani network, on Pakistani territory.

He also discussed the U.S. security assistance programme designed to support the Pakistani government’s struggle against militants.

As International Security Assistance Forces draw down over the course of 2014, he said the U.S. and coalition partners remain resolved not to let militants destabilise the region.

He also emphasised the U.S. desire for a strong, long-term partnership with Pakistan.

Mr. Sharif, in turn, raised the issue of drone strikes. Pakistan has been demanding an end to the drone strikes in view of the large civilian casualties and the question of sovereignty. After PTI stopped NATO supply trucks, the U.S. had to suspend transport through the Torkham route in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Ties between the two countries have been strained after Pakistan blamed the U.S. for scuttling the peace talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) when a drone strike killed Hakimullah Mehsud. This was followed by another one in Hangu which targeted the Haqqani Network.