Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Pakistan apprises USA to address concerns to move forward: FO

Pakistan apprises USA to address concerns to move forward: FO

The army chief told the USA official that Pakistan will continue its honest counter-terrorism efforts even without United States financial support in accordance with its own national interests and will remain committed to bringing the effort to its logical conclusion along with other stakeholders.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has told top U.S. generals that the entire Pakistani nation "felt betrayed" at criticism that it was not doing enough to fight terrorism, a statement released by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Friday.

According to Friday's statement, Bajwa told Votel that Pakistan would not request the resumption of military aid from the U.S.

Of course, Pakistan might ultimately be bluffing, but its best bet is nevertheless to play the Afghan card in one capacity or another as an asymmetrical response to the US.

"This view, he felt, was undermining in Washington Pakistan's contributions in the war against terrorism", the ISPR statement added.

Pakistan has been a key ally of the United States in war on terror since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, but relations have been strained between the two sides since Trump accused Islamabad of harboring terrorists.

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Possibility of a unilateral action by the USA was key concern in Islamabad, especially after a Pentagon report on Afghanistan last month mentioned "unilateral steps in areas of divergence". Gen. Asif Ghafoor said that Votel in his call to Gen. Qamer Javed Bajwa reiterated Washington's concern about Afghans using Pakistan as a staging ground for attacks inside Afghanistan. "So now it is the job of Pakistan to take seriously their commitment to us and most importantly to the people of Pakistan who ... should want to root out terrorists in their country as much as we want to root out terrorists in their country".

The ISPR said Gen Votel had told the army chief that the "US values Pakistan's role towards war on terror and expected that ongoing turbulence remains a temporary phase". But it said the United States military was in "continuous communication" with Pakistan's military, to include recurring conversations between the two. "We value mutual understanding of interests and concerns that we need to consider that might lead to a positive path forward", Thomas told AFP.

However, the U.S. military is also concerned that the Pakistani army, which effectively runs foreign policy, might close the air and land corridors on which US-led troops and Afghan forces in landlocked Afghanistan depend for supplies.

Tension between the United States and Pakistan has grown over U.S. complaints that the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network that target American troops in Afghanistan are allowed to take shelter on Pakistani soil.

Pakistan would not seek to unfreeze the funding, but did "expect honourable recognition of our contributions, sacrifices and unwavering resolve in fight against terrorism", he said, adding that Pakistan would continue the counterterrorism operations without US's financial support.

"Pakistan is also strengthening border controls unilaterally but if Afghanistan genuinely feels affected from Pakistan, bilateral border management must be Kabul's top priority as well", Gen Bajwa said.

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