Top counter-terror officials from Pakistan and the US will meet this week to strengthen their cooperation in the first institutionalised interaction since the relationship between the two countries was strained by Osama bin Laden’s killing in May.
A meeting of the Pak-US Joint Working Group on counter-terrorism in Islamabad on Tuesday will discuss measures to fight terror in view of the new strategy announced last week by the Obama administration.
The group, which deals with strengthening Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies to counter terrorism, met in Washington last October where the two sides had agreed to take steps to enhance cooperation.
US Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement William Brownfield and Pakistan’s Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddique will lead their respective sides at the talks.
“The talks will focus on cooperation between the law enforcement agencies of the two countries,” said a US embassy official. However, he would not share more details.
The US is providing training to police and other law enforcement agencies to effectively deal with terrorism.
However, the cooperation between the two sides has been affected following Bin Laden’s death. Since then Pakistan has been apparently pushing for renegotiating anti-terror cooperation with the US.
As part of efforts, the country’s security establishment has not only launched a crackdown against the “CIA network” in Pakistan but also compelled the US to pull out its military personnel. But the US is also involved in training police and paramilitary troops in Pakistan and it is not yet clear whether Pakistan seeks to review this cooperation as well.
“Obviously, discussions will take place in view of the events following the Bin Laden incident,” said a Foreign Office official, who requested not to be named.
However, the official said that Pakistan does need training, equipment and other support from the US for its law enforcement agencies to counter terrorism.
The remarks appear to underline Pakistan’s reliance on the US in terms of not only financial but also other assistance to deal with extremism.
In the backdrop of the new US National Counter-Terror Strategy, the US officials at the talks are expected to ask Pakistan for taking more measures to deal with the issue of terror-financing. The meeting will also review the decisions taken at the last meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2011.