Chuck Hagel heads to Pakistan to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif


Former US Senator Chuck Hagel testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of defense on Jan. 31, 2013, in Washington, DC.


Alex Wong

US defense secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Pakistan Monday for a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in an effort to help smooth over frayed relations, in no small part caused by the US drone strike program.

In the first visit to Pakistan by a Pentagon chief in almost four years, according to Al Jazeera, Hagel said the visit was "in recognition of the tremendous support that Pakistan has provided in the war on terror," although he acknowledged that there was "some friction in the relationship."

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 Hagel's visit comes right after the US military decided to temporarily end ground cargo shipments from Afghanistan via Pakistan due to drone strike protests, wrote the BBC.

The suspension, per the US, is now over, although more protests against the drone strikes remain a possibility.

CIA drone strikes are a controversial topic in Pakistan, where the program has killed not only terrorists but also a number of civilians — an incursion that Pakistan claims violates their national sovereignty. 

Hagel comes to Pakistan on the heels of a visit to Afghanistan, where he discussed a security pact that would allow US troops to remain in the nation past 2014. Afghan president Hamid Karzai remains reluctant to sign the agreement.