ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed concerns that some quarters in the United States and Afghanistan are trying to undermine its counter-terrorism efforts, but it would continue to act positively.
This was the first official reaction from Pakistan – coming from army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa – since Pentagon withheld military reimbursement over Islamabad’s alleged failure to act against certain militant outfits.
The reaction came during Gen Qamar’s meeting with Commander Resolute Support Mission and US forces Gen John Nicholson at the GHQ in Rawalpindi.
The army chief raised concern over the blame-game perpetrated by some quarters in the US and Afghanistan to undermine Pakistan’s contribution towards the war on terror, according to a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
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“It is not a coincidence that this theme is being played at a time when policy review is being undertaken in the USA,” Gen Qamar told Gen Nocholson, according to the ISPR.
He, however, said that despite provocations, Pakistan would continue to act positively as “we consider defeat of terrorism as a national interest”.
Accompanied by US Ambassador David Hale, the US general reiterated his appreciation of the professionalism of Pakistan Army and the resilience of the people of Pakistan.
“Both agreed on the need for continuous engagement and coordination for peace and stability in the region,” said the ISPR statement.
This was the first meeting between the military leadership of the two countries after the US defence secretary refused to certify that Pakistan was taking sufficient steps against the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.
As a consequence of the defence secretary’s refusal, Pentagon would not reimburse the remaining $50 million from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) for year 2016 to Pakistan.
The move came on the heels of discussions within the US Congress to take punitive measures against Pakistan for allegedly not doing enough to control groups responsible for creating a security situation in Afghanistan and India.
The growing anti-Pakistan rhetoric in the Capital Hill comes as the Trump administration is all set to announce its strategy for Afghanistan and rest of South Asia.
Indications are that the Trump administration may change the role of US troops and send reinforcements to Afghanistan in order to break the stalemate in the war-torn country.
Pakistan believes it is being made a scapegoat for the US and Afghanistan government’s failure to bring the situation under control.
At a Foreign Office briefing on Thursday, spokesperson Nafees Zakaria strongly defended Pakistan’s counter-terrorism campaign and said most of the terrorists had found refuge in Afghanistan.
“As is evident from the statistics and media reports available, a considerable number of leaders and senior commanders of the Haqqani network and other terrorists have been killed inside Afghanistan,” Zakaria insisted, debunking the notion that the deadliest Afghan Taliban group was operating from Pakistan.