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Pakistan high officials met Us Defense Secretary

05 December, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday met Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders and urged them ‘redouble’ their efforts to rein in militants accused of using the country as a base to carry out attacks in neighboring Afghanistan.

Mattis, on a one-day visit to Pakistan, said the South Asian nation had made progress in the fight against militancy inside its borders but needed to make more.

“The Secretary reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Mattis, who visited Pakistan for the first time as defense secretary, said before the trip that the goal for his meetings with Pakistani officials would be to find ‘common ground’.

In his discussion with Mattis, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the two allies shared objectives. “We’re committed (to) the war against terror,” he said. “Nobody wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan.”

During the meeting, General Mattis stated that the purpose of his visit was to find ‘common grounds’ in order to create a positive, consistent and long-term relationship with Pakistan, read a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s House.

Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua and Director General (DG) ISI Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar were among those who attended the meeting. US Ambassador David Hale was also present.

“The US defence secretary said he was aware of the sacrifices rendered and the lives lost in Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and extremism,” the statement read. Mattis was also reported to have appreciated the professional abilities of Pakistan’s armed forces.

Mattis underscored the importance of continuing and deepening cooperation for the ‘common objective of eliminating terrorism from the region’, read the statement.

Prime Minister Abbasi underlined the need for broad-based engagement to strengthen the partnership and enhance cooperation between the two countries, the statement said.

He agreed with Mattis that both Pakistan and the US have common stakes in securing peace and security in Afghanistan for the long-term stability of the broader region.

The premier also appreciated the US’s resolve not to allow the use of Afghan soil against Pakistan.

Sharing highlights of recent counter-terrorism operations to improve the domestic law and order situation, PM Abbasi noted that Pakistan, in its national interest, would continue to conduct intelligence-based operations all over the country to consolidate the gains achieved in the last four years.

The prime minister reiterated that there was no safe haven in Pakistan and the entire nation was committed to its resolve on ‘eradicating terrorism once and for all in all its forms and manifestations’.

Mattis also met with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the GHQ. The meeting focused on regional security with particular emphasis on Afghanistan as well as other matters of mutual interest, according to press release issued by the ISPR.

The COAS acknowledged history of US engagements with Pakistan especially the ongoing efforts for continuing the positivity for peace in the region. He said that Pakistan had done much more than its due share despite capacity constraints but will remain committed for peace as a responsible member of the international community.

He reiterated Pakistan’s support to peace and stability in the region and highlighted Pakistan’s concerns emanating from Indian use of Afghan soil, the necessity and right of Afghan refugees for a respectable and early repatriation and the existence of terrorist safe havens across the border in Afghanistan.

Gen Mattis expressed his respect for Pakistan’s armed forces and the effective operations undertaken against terrorists. He highlighted the concern that a few elements continue to use Pakistan’s territory to further their terrorist agenda in Afghanistan. He assured the COAS that US was ready to play its role in addressing Pakistan’s legitimate concerns, saying that his aim was not to make demands but find common grounds to work together.

The COAS appreciated the visiting dignitary’s understanding of the underlying issues and said that Pakistan didn’t require anything from US but ‘understanding’. “We have eliminated safe havens from Pakistan’s soil but are prepared to look into the possibility of miscreants exploiting Pakistan’s hospitality to the Afghan refugees to the detriment of our Afghan brothers,” he said.

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