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ISLAMABAD: Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa talked to US Defence Secretary James Mattis by telephone for 20 minutes, said a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Thursday.

Gen Bajwa congratulated Mr Mattis on assuming the office of US defence secretary and expressed the hope that his vast experience in the field would be of “great value” for the region.

For his part, Secretary Mattis recalled the sacrifices rendered by the people and armed forces of Pakistan in the fight against terrorists and praised their resilience. He also lauded the role the Pakistan Army has played in combating the scourge of terrorism.

Both Gen Bajwa and Mr Mattis reaffirmed their commitment towards the common goal of bringing about peace in the region and discussed measures aimed at achieving that goal.

They also underlined the need for continued engagement at multiple levels between the two countries.

Top US commander in Afghanistan calls for review of ties with Pakistan

Meanwhile, the top US commander in Afghanistan has called for a comprehensive review of Washington’s ties with Islamabad. He also said he needed several thousand more international troops in order to break a stalemate in the long war with Taliban, indicating that the matter might soon be put before President Donald Trump.

Army General John Nicholson, who leads US and international forces in Afghanistan, acknowledged the Taliban gains over the past year, when deployed US forces were reduced even as security deteriorated.

Gen Nicholson said he still had enough US troops to carry out counterterrorism missions against Al Qaeda and other militant targets, but not enough to properly advise Afghan forces on the ground.

“We have a shortfall of a few thousand,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington on Thursday. He added those forces could both be drawn from US forces as well as from allies.

Gen Nicholson noted that Mr Mattis would soon speak to allies and suggested that the secretary might visit Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

That could help Mattis prepare his own recommendation to Trump, who has sharply criticised past US administrations for their handling of conflicts in the Muslim world but has also pledged to eradicate Islamist militants around the globe.

Policy on Pakistan

Gen Nicholson called for a “holistic review” of the relationship with Pak­is­tan, echoing longstanding US concerns that the Haqqani network, a militant group, enjoyed “sanctuary in areas in that country along the Afghan border”.

“Our complex relationship with Pakistan is best assessed through a holistic review,” he said, adding that addressing US concerns about Pakistan was at the top of his list of priorities.

The United States has cut both military and economic aid to Pakistan sharply in recent years, reflecting mounting US frustration with the nuclear-armed nation.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2017

Comments (9) Closed

MS Feb 10, 2017 08:18am

An other review with Pakistan and an other surge in Afghanistan. The repeat of same old failed US Afghan policy. What difference could an other few thousand added NATO troops will make when more then 120,000 at the peak of last surge could not make. The best policy would be to kick start sincere negotiation with Afghan resistance to form a national unity government and have all foreign forces leave the region.

rajendra Feb 10, 2017 09:39am

Pakistan should target all terrorists. that is solution for peace in the region.

Dannish Feb 10, 2017 09:43am

Remember, Friends Not Masters.

Hassan Feb 10, 2017 09:54am

@rajendra We are doing that. But note that it takes time. Those groups are funded by international rouge agencies.

THOUGHT PROVOKING Feb 10, 2017 10:31am

The US must has to review his aggressive Foreign policy in this region for developing peace and stability .Pakistan has been an important strategic partner of US Allies since Afghan war . The all important strategic issues should need to be resolved Through dialogues and peace full Negotiations .Pakistan has sacrificed a lot in the great interest of USA.

N.S Feb 10, 2017 11:07am

"Secretary Mattis recalled the sacrifices rendered by the people and armed forces of Pakistan in the fight against terrorists and praised their resilience. He also lauded the role the Pakistan Army has played in combating the scourge of terrorism."

world acknowledges Pakistan's sacrifices...civilians and the military both.

Khan Feb 10, 2017 11:53am

General Mattis is a real friend of Pakistan, and we are so lucky that a pro-Pakistan voice was appointed to such a high rank. Secondly, General Nicholson simply said US-Pak relations are best viewed holistically, and he actually did not call for a review of relations. His comments should not be mistaken to mean that he wants the US to reassess every facet of our relationship.

optimist rajput Feb 10, 2017 11:56am

@rajendra So what is the job of USA, NATO and Afghan forces, as Afghanistan is epicenter of terrorism what are these combined forces are doing in Afghanistan. Stop blaming Pakistan and dare to question these forces failure in Afghanistan.

Nomi Goraya Feb 10, 2017 01:09pm

Pakistan must ignore all what is going on in USA we need cordial not friendly relationship with USA. Pakistan must not commit to clean the mess created by USA and her beloved friends in their beloved Afghanistan. At the same time Pakistan must focus to make friendly relationship with countries like Russia, China, Iran who do not share same view point as that of USA. A simple point to ponder that why all neighbors of Afghanistan are all sure that USA and her allied policy about Afghanistan and region are counter productive. Pakistan must work all hard for proper border management on western border and there must not be any free moment of people as Pakistan need to make sure that the mess which is brewing in Afghanistan remains on that side of border and does not affect Pakistan. We have earned PEACE in very hard way. I wish all the best for Afghanistan as with the Syrian war cooling and savior of Afghanistan all confused and busy in blame game I can only WISH