Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

U.S. military says in 'continuous communication' with Pakistan

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier standing guard near the Beijing-funded 'megaport' of Gwadar in Balochistan Pakistan A Pakistani paramilitary soldier standing guard near the Beijing-funded 'megaport' of Gwadar in Balochistan Pakistan
Patty Aguilar | 13 January, 2018, 12:38

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

Pakistani Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan went so far as to tell reporters this week that Pakistan would cease "a wide field of intelligence cooperation and defense cooperation" with the U.S. He did not elaborate.

The statement led to heightened tensions between Pakistan and the US.

On Friday, army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa told US Central Command Chief General Joseph Votel during a telephone call that Pakistan "felt betrayed" by criticism that it was not doing enough to fight terrorism.

Col. John Thomas, U.S. Central Command spokesman, said officials are in continuous communication with Pakistan's military, including conversations between Votel and Bajwa.

"Even the US ambassador", who was summoned for a meeting at Pakistan's Foreign Ministry after Trump's New Year's Day tweets, "didn't have an explanation for the tweet for the first couple of days", the official said.

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The Pakistani military in a statement said Gen. Votel apprised COAS about the USA decision regarding Security Assistance and Coalition Support Fund and said that U.S. values Pakistan's role towards war on terror and expected that on-going turbulence remains a temporary phase.

The army chief told the United States official that Pakistan will continue its honest counter-terrorism efforts even without USA 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.

Votel also told Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa that the US was "not contemplating any unilateral action inside Pakistan", but seeking its cooperation to capture militants based on Pakistani soil who carry out attacks in Afghanistan, the Pakistani statement said. It added that Bajwa told Votel Pakistan was fully aware of the US concerns regarding activities of Afghan nationals in Pakistan and is already undertaking several operations against militants.

Pakistan, General Bajwa maintained, 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. The committee at the time said that the US was scapegoating Pakistan for its own failure to bring peace to Afghanistan after 16 years of war. "Pakistan has suffered hugely due to great power contestation in the region", the army chief stated.

It said Bajwa assured Votel that Pakistan will keep supporting all initiatives for peace in Afghanistan.

He said the United States is not contemplating any unilateral action inside Pakistan but is seeking cooperation to tackle Afghan nationals, who, in the USA view, use Pakistan's soil against Kabul.

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