The United States has praised Pakistan for its actions against Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a banned militant outfit New Delhi blames for masterminding a deadly assault on an air base in a northern Indian state in January.
Seven Indian servicemen were killed when six gunmen mounted the brazen attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, triggering two days of gun battles. India shared the ‘leads’ with Pakistan which, in turn, launched a crackdown against the JeM, taking its chief Maulana Masood Azhar into ‘protective custody’.
In a joint statement issued on Wednesday at the end of Pakistan-US strategic dialogue in Washington, the United States appreciated the measures taken by Islamabad, including the detention of Maulana Azhar.
The strategic dialogue was co-chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
“Noting the steps taken by Pakistan to date, including the JeM chief’s detention, the US appreciates Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s stated commitment to take prompt and decisive action on this investigation and to bring the perpetrators of the January 2, 2016 attack on the Pathankot air base to justice,” read the statement.
Washington’s appreciation came a day after New Delhi directly accused Islamabad of supporting the non-state actors who it said carried out the Pathankot attack.
The joint statement also emphasised the need for a meaningful dialogue between Pakistan and India on all outstanding issues, including Kashmir. The delegations underscored that all parties in the region should continuously act with maximum restraint and work collaboratively toward reducing tensions.
Secretary Kerry welcomed Pakistan’s commitment to facilitating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. The two sides underscored the imperative of quickly catalysing direct peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban to end the bloodshed and preserve Afghanistan’s unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
Fostering Strategic Stability
The two sides reaffirmed the great importance they attach to preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and their means of delivery to both states and non-state actors.
Washington and Islamabad resolved to continue to work together to achieve the objectives of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1540, and noted that both have supported and implemented relevant council resolutions.
Both countries highlighted the constructive discussion at the 2015 meeting of the Security, Strategic Stability and Nonproliferation (SSS&NP) working group.
The United States acknowledged Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to harmonise its strategic trade controls with those of the multilateral export control regimes. Pakistan affirmed that it remains committed to pursuing measures aimed at building confidence and lessening the risk of an armed conflict. Both sides recognised the shared interest in strategic stability in South Asia and in pursuing increased transparency.
The two sides look forward to the upcoming SSS&NP working group meeting in May.
Law enforcement and counter-terror cooperation
The two countries agreed on the need for effective action against all violent extremists, specifically underscoring that no country’s territory should be used to destabilise other countries.
The US expressed appreciation for the sacrifices of Pakistan’s security forces and civilians in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to countering terrorism, including by targeting all terrorists without discrimination.
Aziz affirmed Pakistan’s resolve to take effective action against UN-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including al Qaeda, Haqqani Network, and Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliates, as per its international commitments and obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions and the Financial Action Task Force.
Washington and Islamabad committed to continue promoting peace, stability, and transparency in the region and to eliminate the threats posed by violent extremism and terrorism.
The two sides looked forward to the upcoming law enforcement and counterterrorism working group meeting where they will work together to further bolster the capacity of Pakistan’s judicial and law enforcement authorities to enforce the rule of law and combat terrorism, including the financing of terrorism.
The two sides agreed to further enhance cooperation between their respective counter terrorism authorities. Additionally, they emphasised the importance of efforts to enhance bilateral cooperation and information-sharing between Afghanistan and Pakistan, including through joint training, to better interdict the flow of illicit materials and narcotics.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2016.