Senior US senators on Thursday acknowledged Pakistan’s ongoing fight against terrorism, saying it had ‘degraded’ militant networks in the country.
The admission of Pakistan’s crucial role in the war on terror came from members of the US Senate panels on intelligence and armed services – two key portfolios – during a meeting with army chief General Raheel Sharif in Washington DC.
Gen Raheel, who is currently on a visit to the US, visited the Capitol Hill and met Richard Burr and Diane Feinstein, members of the Senate Committee on Intelligence.
According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Lt-Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, both senators noted that Pakistan’s perseverance and commitment had downgraded militant networks in the country.
The leadership of the committee on intelligence acknowledged that Pakistan had turned tide of the war against terrorism and assured the Pakistan Army of US support and cooperation in eradicating the menace.
The army chief emphasised that terrorism was a global threat and it warranted a coordinated global response.
Gen Raheel also met members of Senate Armed Services Committee headed by former presidential candidate Senator John McCain. Jack Reed and other senior senators were also present during the meeting, the chief military spokesperson said.
McCain appreciated the efforts, sacrifices and steadfastness of Pakistan’s armed forces and Gen Raheel’s leadership in fighting terrorist networks on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border. Appreciating longstanding Pak-US defense cooperation, McCain emphasised the need to further reinforce this partnership in view of emerging developments.
The army chief, meanwhile, highlighted the need for stepped up Pak-Afghan border management and sustained cooperation to deal with emerging threats.
It is believed that US senators also discussed with the army chief the possible threat posed by the Islamic State terrorist group. General Raheel made it clear that Pakistan would not allow any new group including IS to set its foot in the country.
Foreign Office briefing
At his weekly briefing in Islamabad on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah stressed again that IS had no footprints in Pakistan.
Speaking against the backdrop of recent Paris attacks that led to calls for greater actions against IS, the spokesperson said Pakistan was fully aware of the global nature of the threat.
“However, I wish to underscore that, for more than a year now, Pakistan has been successfully taking action against terrorists under operation Zarb-e-Azb and National Action Plan,” Qazi added.
He said Pakistan was cognizant of the threat posed by IS and made it clear that it would not tolerate even a shadow of the terrorist outfit on its soil.
“Our security agencies are alert to this threat. There is no footprint of Da’ish (IS) in Pakistan. We will also not tolerate anyone affiliated with it. Our armed forces and security agencies have emphatically said that even the shadow of Daesh will not be tolerated in Pakistan,” he said.
While strongly condemning the Paris attacks, the spokesperson said Pakistan supported peaceful resolution of the situation in Syria through an inclusive dialogue.
“We have also been expressing concern at the continued bloodshed in Syria. The presence of Da’ish in Iraq and Syria and response of the international community to it is well known,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2015.