WASHINGTON: The Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs, Syed Tariq Fatemi, has informed US lawmakers that India’s ‘hostility and belligerence’ has negative implications for peace in South Asia.

In a meeting with members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, Mr Fatemi highlighted massive human rights violations in India-held Kashmir and continuous tension across the Line of Control (LoC).

He “briefed the senators on the increasing negative implications for prospects of peace in South Asia because of Indian hostility and belligerence”, said a statement issued after the meeting.

At a regional conference in Amritsar this week, India and Afghanistan jointly accused Pakistan of allowing terrorists to use its territories for cross-border attacks. Indian authorities also restricted the movement of the Pakistani delegation and did not allow them to talk to the media. While Pakistan condemned the Indian attitude, a spokesman for the US State Department refused to comment on these developments.

Instead, the spokesman, Mark Toner, reminded Pakistan of the need to curb extremism. “We have consistently expressed our concerns to the highest levels of the government of Pakistan about their continued tolerance for Afghan Taliban groups, such as the Haqqani network, operating from Pakistan soil,” he said.

Aware of the US concerns on these issues, Mr Fatemi urged lawmakers also to focus on India’s behaviour which, he said, was fanning tensions in the region.

Mr Fatemi and Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani also met Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and its ranking member Senator Ben Cardin at Capitol Hill and told them how Pakistan had turned the page by focusing on improving economy and security in the country during the past three years.

The senators acknowledged Pakistan’s role in promoting peace and security in the region and expressed the US desire to strengthen bilateral ties with Pakistan, which was a longstanding and important partner of the United States.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee overseas the US foreign policy priorities across the globe and also authorises the economic and humanitarian assistance for partner countries.

Separately, Mr Fatemi met the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, and discussed with him the overall security situation in the region.

The two leaders talked about Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan and the growing tension with India across the LoC and the Working Boundary.

Senator McCain congratulated Pakistan on a successful transition in the military command and reiterated the US commitment to remaining engaged with the country in promoting lasting peace and stability in the region, a statement said.

Mr Fatemi is visiting the US as an envoy to improve frayed ties with the new Republican leaders and the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump who will assume office on Jan 20.

He invited Senator McCain, who visited North Waziristan last year, to pay another visit to Pakistan next year.

In a meeting with Congressman Eliot Engel, a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the special assistant reiterated Pakistan’s firm commitment to acting against all terrorist networks.

During a discussion on the situation in South Asia, Mr Fatemi underlined Pakistan’s commitment to working for a peaceful neighbourhood, anchored on good neighbourly relations and regional economic connectivity.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2016



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