US to address Pakistan’s legitimate concerns on redoubling efforts against terrorists

Arif Qureshi

Islamabad: US Defence Secretary James Mattis accompanied by senior officials from Department of Defence and the US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale held a series of meetings with the civil and military leadership of Pakistan. After meetings no joint statement was issued rather US embassy in Islamabad quoting chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White and Pakistan army mouthpiece Inter service public relation(ISPR) issued statements regarding the interactions.

United States Defence Secretary James Mattis promised to address Pakistan’s legitimate concerns raised by political and military leadership but repeated that Pakistan must have to redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country. Pakistani leadership clearly said although they have done enough but at the same time they are committed for peace as a responsible member of international community.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis recognized Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism. The Secretary emphasized the vital role that Pakistan can play in working with the United States and others to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that brings stability and security to the region. The Secretary reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country.

In delegations level meeting the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbas reiterated that there are no safe havens in Pakistan and the entire nation was committed to its resolve on eradicating terrorism once and for all in all its forms and manifestations.

Prime Minister underlined the need for a broad based engagement to strengthen partnership and enhance cooperation between the two countries. The prime minister agreed on the need for better cooperation between the two countries and called for a “broad based engagement”. General Mattis stated that the purpose of his visit was to find common grounds in order to create a positive, consistent and long term relationship with Pakistan. General Mattis also underscored the importance of continuing and deepening cooperation for the common objective of eliminating terrorism from the region.

ISI Director General Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir and National Security Adviser Lt Gen (r) Naseer Khan Janjua were present in the meeting.

Later US Secretary of Defence General James Mattis, called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ. According to Pakistan army mouthpiece Inter service public relation(ISPR) Meeting was focused on regional security with particular emphasis on Afghanistan as well as other matters of mutual interest. COAS acknowledged history of US engagements with Pakistan especially the ongoing efforts for continuing the positivity for peace in the region. He said that Pakistan has done much more than its due share despite capacity constraints but shall remain committed for peace as a responsible member of international community.

He reiterated Pakistan’s support to peace and stability in the region and highlighted Pakistan’s concerns emanating from Indian use of Afghan soil, the necessity and right of Afghan refugees for a respectable & early repatriation and the existence of terrorist safe havens across the border in Afghanistan.

Gen Mattis expressed his respect for Pakistan Armed Forces and the effective operations undertaken against terrorists. He highlighted concern that a few elements continue to use Pakistan’s territory to further their terrorist agenda in Afghanistan. He assured that US is ready to play its role in addressing Pakistan’s legitimate concerns, saying that his aim is not to make demands but find common grounds to work together.

COAS appreciated the dignitary’s understanding of the underlying issues and said that Pakistan does not require anything from US but understanding. We have eliminated safe havens from Pakistan’s soil but are prepared to look into the possibility of miscreants exploiting Pakistan’s hospitality to the Afghan Refugees to the detriment of our Afghan brothers. Both agreed to work towards specific and sustained actions on each other’s concerns.

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