US wants Pakistan to expand counter-terrorism efforts: State Dept
WASHINGTON: United States State Department Spokesman Mark Toner in a press briefing on Friday said the US wants to see Pakistan's efforts against terrorism expand.
"We want to see those efforts expand. But it’s such a complex dynamic," Toner said. "You’ve got Afghanistan and the Taliban’s continued presence there on one side. You do have tensions with India, and those need to be addressed."
After a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and US President Barack Obama last week, both sides agreed on Thursday to take effective action against all terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba.
According to a joint statement issued after the meeting, Pakistan also agreed to ensure that all Taliban groups, including the Haqqani Network, "are unable to operate from the soil of Pakistan".
Speaking in Washington on Friday, a day after talks with Obama, Nawaz had said that Pakistan was ready to help Afghanistan revive peace talks with Taliban rebels.
However, while Nawaz insisted that Pakistan has no interest in backing the Taliban's campaign of violence, he also said that Pakistan "cannot bring them to the table and be asked to kill them at the same time".
Nawaz also made clear that Pakistan's main priority was seeking international support to compel India to negotiate over the future of the disputed province of Kashmir.
Dossiers containing evidence of Indian involvement in subversive activities had been handed over to the US side by Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Nawaz had on Wednesday also apprised US Secretary of State John Kerry about the destabilising role being played by Indian intelligence agencies in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), Balochistan and Karachi.
The premier on Friday charged India of stepping up ceasefire violations across the Line of Control and Working Boundary.
“While refusing dialogue, India is engaged in a major arms buildup, regrettably with the active assistance of several powers,” he had said.
Mark Toner in his briefing also said the US believes Pakistan's tensions with India are best addressed through continued dialogue. "Beyond that, they need to share information ... share cooperation.
"We’ve been very clear that India and Pakistan need dialogue. They need to continue to discuss with each other their mutual concerns about security and that they need greater engagement, because frankly, better dialogue, improved dialogue, greater cooperation between those two countries is important for all the security of the entire region."
Speaking of Nawaz and Obama's meeting, Toner said, "The visit overall highlighted our strong and growing relationship with Pakistan and provided an opportunity to strengthen our cooperation on a range of issues."
The first and foremost issue is security, he said, but also mentioned a number of other areas of mutual interest, including cooperation on economic growth, trade, investment, clean energy, nuclear security, climate change, and regional stability.
Last week, Nawaz while addressing American CEOs at the US Chamber of Commerce assured foreign investors that operations against terrorism have had a positive impact on the business environment and urged them to take advantage of the situation.
He said Pakistan's increased urbanisation, favourable demographics, a growing middle class and increasingly economically empowered women and youth are "recognised drivers of growth".
Nawaz had said Pakistan was also trying to overcome energy shortages by 2017.
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