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Taliban sanctuaries in Afghanistan to be eliminated, Pakistan assured

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RAWALPINDI: This photograph released by the Inter Services Public Relations shows Army Chief Raheel Sharif with Gen Sher Mohammad Karimi, Chief of General Staff of Afghan National Army (left), and General John Campbell, Commander of Isaf (centre), during a meeting at the General Headquarters here on Tuesday.—AFP
RAWALPINDI: This photograph released by the Inter Services Public Relations shows Army Chief Raheel Sharif with Gen Sher Mohammad Karimi, Chief of General Staff of Afghan National Army (left), and General John Campbell, Commander of Isaf (centre), during a meeting at the General Headquarters here on Tuesday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Commanders of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (Isaf) reaffirmed on Tuesday their commitment to eliminating sanctuaries of Pakistani militants on Afghan soil.

The commitment was reiterated during a meeting of ANA Chief General Sher Mohammad Karimi and Isaf Commander General John Campbell with Pakistan’s Army Chief General Raheel Sharif at the General Headquarters.

The meeting took place after Afghan and Pakistani troops commenced long talked-about ‘coordinated operations’ against Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s sanctuaries in Kunar province. On the Pakistan side of the border, Pakistani troops had intensified surveillance for netting any of the militants fleeing the military action on the other side.


Afghan, Isaf commanders review action against militants in meeting with Gen Raheel Sharif


“It (Kunar) was a coordinated operation. The Afghan side shared information with us and we took measures on our side,” a senior military official told Dawn without elaborating on the steps the Pakistani side took.

Pakistan and Afghanistan had been discussing the idea of joint operations for years, but finally agreed on it when Gen Raheel Sharif last week visited Kabul in the aftermath of Peshawar school carnage to demand action against hideouts of Pakistani militants in Kunar and other areas.

“There was a complete consensus at the meeting in GHQ on continuing the coordinated operations and intelligence sharing,” the official said, adding that one aspect of the meeting was to review the actions taken by the two countries against militants since the Peshawar tragedy.

“Action against TTP was in focus at the meeting that also reviewed the progress in Zarb-i-Azb operation in North Waziristan,” he explained.

The fact that Gen Campbell and Gen Karimi together came to Pakistan reflected both resolve and commitment in Afghanistan to deal with the problem, a defence analyst underscored.

An ISPR statement on the meeting said: “Both leaders (ANA and Isaf chiefs) assured their full support in fight against terrorism and eliminating terrorists on Afghan soil.”

Gen Raheel Sharif, meanwhile, also renewed full support for ANA, “including coordinated operations in respective areas by both sides and sharing of intelligence”.

On the agenda of the trilateral meeting was also a discussion on the proposed mechanism for improving coordination on the Pakistan-Afghan border and the suggested protocols for tightening border control.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2014