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US, Afghanistan not cooperating on counter terrorism: FO

07 November, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Accusing Washington and Kabul of lack of cooperation in its ongoing drive against terrorism, Islamabad on Thursday said it does not "object to any countries presence in Afghanistan".

It has also rejected any conditionality on Pak- India dialogue on Kashmir. "At the time of when Operation Zarb-e-Azb began, the Afghans and the Americans were asked to take corresponding action on other side of the border, who may flee. You would have seen the briefings by DG ISPR, confirming the unfortunate fact that we did not receive cooperation which we expected and which would have been in the interest of making safe not only Pakistan but also Afghanistan," Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told the journalists in weekly briefing.

"In this background, these baseless allegations in report to US Congress are unacceptable to Pakistan," she said in response to a report from the United States Department of Defence presented to the American Congress on Tuesday.

Interestingly, in apparent contradiction to what the FO spokesperson said, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa never accused the US of lack of cooperation in Pakistan's drive against militancy, in his related press briefings, and solely accused Afghan side of not cooperating with Pakistan on counterterrorism initiatives.

"We do not object to any countries presence in Afghanistan, we have very clearly articulated our policy that we want all countries close and far to contribute to reconstruction, economic development and stability in Afghanistan," the FO representative said in an apparently implied response to the reports suggesting an unease within the ranks of Pakistan's establishment over India's growing influence in Afghanistan.

"We pursue a policy of non-interference and strict neutrality in Afghanistan. We believe it is for Afghans to decide how they want to proceed on reconciliation and other matters. But we have also said that Afghan soil should not be used against Pakistan."

In its 114-page half-yearly report titled "Progress towards security and stability in Afghanistan," submitted to the US Congress, the US Department of Defence cautioned that terrorist groups like Haqqani Network would pose grave challenges in the post draw-down period. "They will likely remain the most significant threat to coalition forces in the post-2014 non-combat mission, especially if they are not denied sanctuary in Pakistan," the document reads. According to the report, the US continues to seek a constructive relationship with Pakistan that advances both US and Pakistani interests.

However, "Taliban attacks in Afghanistan launched from sanctuaries in Pakistan remain a serious problem. These sanctuaries exist primarily in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan. Pakistan and the United States cooperate on areas of mutual interests, including providing essential support to US retrograde operations from Afghanistan. In addition, Pakistan continues to cooperate with the United States on some CT (counterterrorism) activities. Pakistan's military made gains against the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan and foreign fighters in the FATA and Khyber."

The report notes, "Although stability in Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan, Pakistan also seeks sufficient Pashtun representation in the Afghan government to prevent Pashtun discontent along the Afghan-Pakistan border and limit India's influence."

Meanwhile, the FO spokesperson in the Thursday press briefing said that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif's visit to Kabul was part of Pakistan's continuous engagement with Afghanistan at various levels. She said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would lead Pakistani delegation at a dialogue being held in Beijing on Saturday prior to the 22nd session of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

End.

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