Mattis repeats redouble efforts against terrorism

Staff Report
ISLAMABAD: United States (US) defence secretary James Mattis in meetings with prime minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, defence minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, chief of army staff (COAS) general Qamar Javed Bajwa, inter services intelligence (ISI) director general (DG) lieutenant general Naveed Mukhtar reiterated, “Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country;” an official US statement said on Monday.

He emphasised the vital role that Pakistan can play in working with the US and others to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that brings stability and security to the region. 

Mattis recognised Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism.

According to an official Pakistani statement, on Monday, PM Abbasi reiterated that there are no terrorist safe heavens in Pakistan and that the entire nation is committed to its resolve on eradicating terrorism once and for all in all its forms and manifestations.

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

He noted that no other country benefits more from peace and stability in Afghanistan than Pakistan.

Abbasi 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.

He appreciated the US resolve not to allow the use of Afghan soil against Pakistan.

Mattis, in his meeting with PM Abbasi, 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.

He emphasised that in view of his long association with Pakistan, he was keenly aware of the sacrifices rendered and the lives lost in Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and extremism; and his personal respect and appreciation for 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.

Recalling the longstanding relationship with the US, PM Abbasi underlined the need for a broad based engagement to strengthen partnership and enhance cooperation between the two countries.

General Mattis was accompanied by senior officials from US defence department and the US ambassador to Pakistan.

Separately, Mattis called on COAS general Bajwa, at general headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi on Monday, whereat the meeting focused on regional security with particular emphasis on Afghanistan as well as other matters of mutual interest, an inter services public relations (ISPR) statement said.

COAS acknowledged the history of US engagements with Pakistan, especially the ongoing efforts for continuing the positivity for peace in the region.

He said, “Pakistan has done much more than its due share despite capacity constraints but shall remain committed for peace, as a responsible member of international community.”

General Bajwa 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.

General Mattis expressed his respect for Pakistan 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.

Mattis assured that the US is ready to play its role in addressing Pakistan's legitimate concerns, saying that his aim is not to make demands but find common grounds to work together.

COAS appreciated the dignitary's understanding of the underlying issues and said that Pakistan does not 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.

Both agreed to work towards specific and sustained actions on each other's concerns, ISPR statement concluded.