Building on recent diplomatic efforts to normalise strained relations between Islamabad and Washington, military chiefs from both countries met on Friday and agreed to increase cooperation to curtail cross-border movement of terrorists on the Pak-Afghan border.
A late night statement issued by the military’s media wing after a meeting between Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and General James N Mattis, Commander US Central Command (CENTCOM) said the two sides will focus on increasing coordination at the border.
“The two discussed bilateral issues and matters of mutual interest, with special emphasis on improving coordination between ISAF and the Pakistan Army at the Pak-Afghan border, the statement said.
A couple of senior military officials told The Express Tribune that both countries will continue engagement to evolve a better mechanism to check the movement of militants across the Durand Line, the shared border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
They said the American military officials have been pushing Pakistan to make sure that the militants associated with the Haqqani network and allegedly based in North Waziristan’s tribal region do not cross into Afghanistan and attack international forces.
On the other hand, Pakistan demanded that international forces must take action to dismantle Pakistani militants from Swat and Bajaur and prevent them from teaming with militants in Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan.
Both sides, one of the military officials said, have agreed to address each others concerns. He added that intelligence cooperation will be part of the new mechanism both sides are pushing to evolve, but did not give any specific details.
During a visit to Pakistan last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a news conference in Islamabad that the administration in Washington wanted to see the Pakistani Army move against the Haqqani network in days and weeks and not months.
The US has been blaming Pakistani intelligence agencies of supporting the Haqqani network, the Afghan militant group blamed for some of the deadly attacks on international forces in Afghanistan including an improvised assault inside a highly fortified Red Zone in Kabul some months ago.
The military officials said the meeting was “continuation of diplomatic contact both in Washington and In Islamabad in recent weeks”.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2011.