Haqqani Network using Pak soil: US

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By Monitoring Desk & Wajid Ali Syed

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday told Pakistan they were concerned about “safe terror havens” being provided to the Afghan Taliban groups such as the Haqqani Network.

“We have consistently expressed our concerns to the highest levels of Government of Pakistan about their continued tolerance for Afghan Taliban groups such as the Haqqani Network operating from Pakistan soil,” State Department Deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said about the meeting.

“We continue to encourage the Government of Pakistan and Afghanistan, rather — both governments to cooperate in their counter-terrorism operations and efforts because that’s only going to contribute to regional stability.”

On the other hand, the Pakistan Embassy said in a statement that during a meeting between Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister (SAPM), Syed Tariq Fatemi, and Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan was discussed and the escalation in fighting along the India-Pakistan border, with Washington calling for a dialogue to resolve the issues.

Fatemi, who is on a visit to the US, told the press that the purpose of his visit was to interact with the US administration and to reach out to officials likely to join the new administration after the presidential election.

He further said Pakistan would be willing to cooperate with the new Donald Trump administration, in achieving peace in Afghanistan and improving the India-Pakistan relations for the sake of peace in the region.

Fatemi also accused India with the new Donald Trump administration, in achieving peace in Afghanistan and improving the India-Pakistan relations for the sake of peace in the region.

Fatemi also accused India of “human rights violations” in Kashmir, which he claimed had resulted in “hundreds of casualties and debilitating injuries to the civilians including women and children”.

“The regional situation including the escalation across the Line of Control and the Working Boundary were discussed during the meeting. The SAPM briefed the deputy secretary on the frequency of ceasefire violations by India in recent weeks with particular reference to targeting of civilians across the LoC,” the statement said.

The talks came days after India and Afghanistan slammed Islamabad for its support to extremist outfits at the Heart of Asia Conference in India’s northern city of Amritsar.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi speaking at local think tank, USIP, on Wednesday pointed out Pakistan’s sacrifices and achievements. He said that since June 2013 the writ of the government had been established in large parts of the tribal areas of Pakistan and that resulted in social and economic activities as well. However, he said, “This had come at a huge cost for Pakistan. The country had sacrificed thousands of lives of both civilian and security personnel in the fight against terrorism.”

He also described Pakistan’s efforts to normalise relations with India and reach out to Afghanistan for peace and stability as the centerpiece of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision of peaceful and prosperous neighborhood. He, then, lamented the absence of any reciprocal desire on the part of some of Pakistan’s neighbours.

He said that crippling power shortages in Pakistan would be a thing of the past by the end of next year.

Highlighting various steps taken to restore the economic outlook of the country, Fatemi stated that the power outages had beset Pakistan for years, but government was now bringing stability and domestic peace to Pakistan.

Dispelling any misconceptions to the contrary, SAPM informed the US audience that China Pakistan Economic Corridor was an economic initiative, which was open to all interested countries, according to a press statement sent by the embassy.

“US is an important strategic partner in both the security and economic domains for Pakistan and we look forward to building on the existing convergences in the relationship as well as addressing mutual differences if any, through continued engagement in the weeks and months ahead as President Trump’s administration takes charge in January next year,” he observed.

Fatemi had come to Washington to meet the outgoing administration officials, as well as president-elect Trump’s transition team.Meanwhile, the Foreign Office said that Pakistan had been taking indiscriminate action against all the terrorist groups.

Responding to questions at the weekly news briefing in Islamabad on Thursday, the Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said the dialogue should not be for the sake of dialogue but result-oriented and sustainable.

He, however, pointed out the presence of different terrorist outfits on the Afghan soil besides use of Afghan soil by Indian intelligence agency RAW for acts of terrorism and sabotage in Pakistan.

Zakaria said that eight senior commanders and leaders of the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-i-Taliban Afghanistan, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and Jamatul Ahrar were killed in Afghanistan since July this year. This confirms presence and use of Afghan soil by these groups for terrorist activities.He said that Pakistan wanted result oriented sustainable dialogue with India and welcomed mediation by the international community on Kashmir issue.

“We always welcome offers of mediation by friendly countries including the United States, China and Iran and the UN Secretary General for the resolution of Kashmir issue”, the spokesperson said.

He said that Pakistan looked forward to the international community making sure that India should stop the bloodshed in Kashmir and engage in dialogue.

He, however, said dialogue should not be just for the sake of dialogue, rather it should be sustainable and result-oriented for the ultimate resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN Security Council’s resolutions.

On reports of United States considering technology transfer of F-16 aircraft to India, Zakaria said that Pakistan was against an arms race in the region and favoured utilisation of the region’s resources for its prosperity and development.

The spokesperson expressed concern over continued blatant violation of human rights committed by the Indian security forces in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

He said despite unabated genocide and crimes against humanity committed by the Indian forces in Indian occupied Kashmir, the indigenous movement for self-determination remained undeterred.

Zakaria said courage, unity and leadership of the Hurriyat Conference despite extreme hardships faced by them deserved Pakistan’s full moral, political and diplomatic support. Courtesy The News

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