WASHINGTON / ISLAMABAD: Following Islamabad’s strong protest over killing of 13 Pakistani troops in cross-border militant attacks in Dir area, the United States on Tuesday urged increased cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan within the trilateral group involving NATO to deal with terrorist issues.
The State Department acknowledged that there are frustrations on both sides of the border over militant activities and called for respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity in addressing cross-border terrorism.
“Our pitch will be again for increased cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan on these terrorists issues, working together in the core group in a trilateral way NATO/ISAF, Pakistan and Afghanistan to try to deal with terrorism on both sides of the border,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
“It speaks to why we want to get back on track in our own counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan,” she added.
The spokesperson was responding to a question regarding Pakistan lodging a strong protest that the NATO and Afghan forces were not taking any action against the safe havens on the Afghan side, which the militants use for attacking Pakistani border areas.
Pakistani officials said about 100 militants from across the Afghan border entered Dir and clashed with Pakistani security forces on patrol duty. The militants also targeted two security check posts near the Pakistan-Afghan border in Barawal, Upper Dir district.
Asked if Washington would support Pakistani troops crossing over the Afghan border to attack militant safe havens, the spokesperson reiterated, “Again, both sides need to respect sovereignty, territorial integrity but they need to work together in how they are each going to deal with problems on their own side of the border. I think there are frustrations on both sides.”
Closer Pak-US cooperation against al Qaeda needed: Munter
United States Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said that he does not know where the current al Qaeda chief Aiman Al Zawahiri was and that the US seeks Pakistan’s help in finding him, adding that his arrest was beneficial for both countries.
Munter, while talking to a private channel, said that Pakistan and US should work together against Al Qaeda.
Speaking about the attack on Salala check post last year by Nato forces, the ambassador said that the US regrets the incident and is desirous of expanding ties with Pakistan in diverse fields, including expanding business and social sector ties.
Regarding resumption of Nato supply routes, he said that several issues with Pakistan have been settled, adding that both sides agreed that the issue was not handled properly and that there was a need for a political decision to end the deadlock.
Munter stressed that the restoration of NATO supplies to Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan.
Responding to a question regarding Raymond Davis, who had shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore in 2010, Munter said that an investigation into the incident was still underway.
The ambassador said the US was ready to talk with Taliban if the latter laid down their arms.
On a question regarding Indo-Pak ties, Munter said Pakistan was very sensitive on the issue of India.