Pakistan making unprecedented effort for Afghan peace: Kerry

Published February 21, 2015
WASHINGTON: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and US Secretary of State John Kerry shake hands at the State Department
WASHINGTON: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and US Secretary of State John Kerry shake hands at the State Department

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has made an unprecedented effort to help the transition in Afghanistan, says US Secretary of State John Kerry.

In a joint news briefing with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Mr Kerry also recognised commitment to eradicating all forms of extremism from its territory.

The interior minister also highlighted the two points in his remarks and noted that relations between Pakistan and the United States were also improving rapidly.

Secretary Kerry noted that Pakistan was playing a critical role in restoring peace and stability to the South Asian region.

“First of all, in the transition taking place in Afghanistan, we are witnessing an unprecedented level of effort to try to produce cooperation,” he said.

And these efforts had produced “some signs of real results,” he added, while recognising Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Gen Raheel Sharif’s personal commitment to improving Pak-Afghan relations. “They’ve been real,” he said.

Secretary Kerry noted that the Pakistani leadership was also committed to going after “terrorists, all forms of extremism” in Pakistan.

“And they are making good on that in their initiatives in the western part of the country and elsewhere, and in their cooperation on counter-terrorism,” he said.

Mr Kerry also noted that the Pakistanis were committed to the evolution and strengthening of their own democracy, “and to trying to be a partner in the region for peace and stability of the region”.

The top US diplomat, however, warned that the region still faced a lot of challenges as “a lot has happened in the last years that had emboldened some of the extremists”.

The Pakistani leadership was deeply concerned about these developments and the United States and Pakistan “have had long conversations about it,” he said.

“And I look forward to continuing the cooperative effort on the economy as well as the cooperative effort in counter-terrorism and democracy building,” Mr Kerry said.

Responding to his remarks, Chaudhry Nisar said that Pakistan too recognised “many challenges facing us” but there were a number of positive developments as well, particularly over the last few months.

These developments “point to a very positive outlook for our relationship and for our joint fight against extremism”, he said.

Mr Khan too mentioned a rapid improvement in Pakistan’s relations with its Western neighbour, pointing out that Islamabad’s ties with Kabul “have never been better, and that is a very, very positive development”.

A close cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan could “do wonders” for eradicating terrorism from the region, he said.

The minister noted that while there had been ups and downs in Pakistan’s relations with the United States, over the last few months, “there has been a huge quantum leap in the level of confidence, in the level of trust, and in the level of cooperation”.

“I think what happened … after the Salala incident, and the subsequently reaction which led to blockade of the Afghan transit supply routes – that’s a far cry now, and both the United States and Pakistan are working very, very closely,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2015

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