ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday hoped that the ongoing US review would result in a comprehensive political strategy to promote reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan and the region amid reports that the Trump Administration is in a fix to evolve a workable plan.
As the US administration is finalising its plan for Afghanistan and South Asia, a US delegation led by Ambassador Alice G Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, held talks with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua at the Foreign Office.
The US delegation is currently on tour to regional countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, to get the firsthand account of the situation on the ground before the White House announces its policy for South Asia, including Afghanistan.
“The visiting delegation was informed about the overall gains that Pakistan has been able to make in the last few years in line with the priorities set by the government,” said a statement issued by the FO.
“These measures include: overcoming energy shortfalls, stabilising and setting the economy on the path of sustained high growth, and an enabling security environment through vigorous counter-terrorism operations.”
In this regard, the foreign secretary appreciated the US support as a longstanding development ally and Pakistan’s largest trade partner.
Pakistan’s perspectives on challenges confronting the region including the security situation in Afghanistan were shared with the US delegation.
The foreign secretary hoped that the ongoing US review would result in a comprehensive political strategy to promote reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan and the region.
She also drew attention of the US delegation to the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and the brutal repression of a just and peaceful struggle, and its implications for peace and security in the region.
Ambassador Wells was assured that Pakistan supports all initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable peace and security in the region and emphasized that a strong partnership with the United States is critical in achieving these shared objectives.
The acting assistant secretary of state thanked the foreign secretary and acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.
Ambassador Wells agreed on the importance of a strong partnership between the US and Pakistan and gave Washington’s perspective on how to move forward the relationship in the coming years. She reiterated that the objective of bilateral cooperation was to seek a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan.
And, speaking at a weekly news briefing, FO spokesperson Nafees Zakria confirmed that the visit was taking place in the backdrop of US policy review on Afghanistan in regional perspective.
“We consider it an important visit, which provides us an opportunity to discuss bilateral relations and share our perspectives on Afghanistan and the broader issues related to the region,” he added.
As the review nears conclusion, a consensus is emerging in the US Congress to take tough measures against Pakistan in order to persuade it to break its alleged nexus with Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network.
The US administration, however, is struggling to come with a comprehensive plan as latest reports suggested that President Donald Trump’s doubts about the war in Afghanistan led to a delay in completing the new US strategy in South Asia.
During a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Trump demanded that his top national security aides provide more information on what one official called ‘the end-state’ in a country where the US has spent 16 years fighting against the Taliban with no end in sight.
The meeting grew stormy when Trump said Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, a Marine general, should consider firing Army General John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, for not winning the war.
“We aren’t winning,” he told them, according to the unnamed officials quoted by Reuters.
The FO spokesperson, meanwhile, said Pakistan was taking all necessary measures to preempt the threat emanating from the presence of Da’ish in Afghanistan. He said those measures include effective border control and management. He pointed out that there were swathes of ungoverned territories in Afghanistan, and Da’ish and other terrorist outfits were gaining grounds there.
Zakria rejected insinuations of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj against Pakistan and said, “Our sacrifices and losses in the war against terror are unmatched.”
“By leveling baseless allegations, India is trying to hide its own hands in state-sponsored terrorism in Occupied Kashmir,” he said, adding that Pakistan wanted to have sustained, meaningful and result-oriented dialogue with India addressing all issues particularly the Jammu and Kashmir.