Saturday, 17 Nov 2018

Engagement with the US over Afghanistan, “to achieve more positive results”

After years of fierce blundering, the Pakistani and US military appear to be back in tactical anti-terrorism cooperation to promote a negotiated settlement to the war in Afghanistan.

American and Pakistani military have recognized the positive trend in mutual relations, and both sides underlined the need for further engagement.

"Pakistan is looking forward to peace in Afghanistan, and Pakistan has contributed to other interests in this regard," said army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor to the VOA on Friday.

Ghafoor responded to statements by a leading American general on Thursday that Pakistan's "cooperation remains key to achieving the overall goal of a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan."

The Pakistani army spokesman made another claim. Military-military engagement is likely to bring more positive results in the overall framework of stakeholders.

General Joseph Votel, Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), said to reporters in Washington the previous day in Washington that he stressed that other US officials had also communicated with their counterparts in Islamabad, and "it is important

  US CENTCOM chief General Joseph Votel visits North Waziristan, Pakistan, August 19, 2017.

US CENTCOM chief general Joseph Votel visits North Waziristan, Pakistan, August 19, 2017.

Now is it's time for them to move forward, "said the US General.

President Donald Trump has suspended Pakistan's military support as part of his new South Asia strategy announced last August, until he resolutely opposes terrorists Afghanistan and other regional countries. This move strained relations and stopped diplomatic contacts until Washington reestablished high-level contacts with Islamabad.

Taliban "safe havens"

U.S. and Afghan officials have long claimed that Taliban leaders and the Haqqani network are directing the Afghan uprising from "safe havens" in Pakistan.

Votel reiterated its call on Pakistan to continue opposing insurgents on its soil by either expelling them or arresting them or urging them to hold peace talks with the Afghan government.

"And I think that's really the key questions we've asked for them, and we've seen some promising opportunities in recent months," said the US commander.

"We have seen that Pakistan has moved in some of the directions we demand, but we have to see this in a much more strategic and longer-term way as we move forward," added Votel

The Taliban uprising last month witnessed an unprecedented unilateral ceasefire during the three-day Eid festival, a move widely welcomed by the international community. US officials at the time indicated that Islamabad may have played a role.

Afghan ambassador Omar Zakhilwal publicly stated for the first time in Islamabad earlier this month that Pakistan has played a role in persuading the insurgents to declare the ceasefire. However, he was not explained further.

Some reports indicated that Islamabad consented to the Taliban in exchange for the US killing of Mullah Fazllullah, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and dozens of his fighters in drone strikes against their sanctuaries in Afghanistan

Islamabad claims it However, it is not solely responsible for bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. Officials say Pakistan's influence with the insurgent group has declined in recent years. However, other countries, including Russia and Iran, have also increased their ties with the Taliban on growing fears that Afghan insecurity is encouraging state Islam terrorists to consolidate their bases in Afghanistan.

Improving Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations [19659003] Pakistani authorities accuse the Afghan refugee population in the country of protecting Taliban insurgents over the years by exploiting the largely porous border between the two countries.

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