ISLAMABAD: The visiting US Congressional delegation led by Senator John McCain on Sunday urged both India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue and asserted that peace in Afghanistan could not be possible without Pakistan’s help.
The delegation met Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and discussed with him important bilateral issues, including terrorism, Pakistan’s relations with India and Afghanistan and regional peace. Other members of the US delegation were Lindsey Graham, Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Warren and David Perdue.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua was also present during the meeting.
After the meeting, Mr McCain, Chairman Senate Armed Services Committee, while talking to the state-run PTV said that Pakistan had a significant role for establishment of peace and stability in Afghanistan. “Peace and stability in Afghanistan is not possible without Pakistan’s help.”
He said: “Kashmir problem should be resolved in a peaceful way through negotiations.”
Peace in Afghanistan is not possible without Islamabad’s assistance
He said the US wanted an end to violence in India-held Kashmir, adding that the US would continue its policy on the Kashmir issue because no change had been made in this regard.
According to the Foreign Office, Senator McCain appreciated the contributions and sacrifices made by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism. He said that continued engagement with Pakistan, a close friend and ally of the US, was important.
The US senators also praised the economic turnaround, as manifested by investors’ interest and confidence in Pakistan.
They agreed with the need for the US and Pakistan to forge closer cooperation in confronting the peace and security challenges in the region and beyond.
Mr Aziz raised concern over the gross human rights violations by Indian security forces in held Kashmir and international community’s silence over the reign of terror unleashed by India on innocent and unarmed Kashmiris.
“Pakistan firmly believes in the legitimacy of the Kashmir cause and the peaceful struggle of the Kashmiri people to claim the right to self-determination promised to them by the international community through the UN Security Council resolutions,” he added.
The adviser reiterated the importance of regular high-level contacts and particularly appreciated Senators McCain, Graham and Whitehouse for their continued engagement and regular visits to Pakistan to promote understanding and cooperation between the two countries.
He underscored the significance of the longstanding cooperation between the two countries and the need to make this partnership diverse and multidimensional. “Pakistan-US strategic partnership is critical to achieve peace and stability in the region and beyond,” he asserted
Mr Aziz apprised the US delegation comprising prominent senators from both Democratic and Republican parties about Pakistan’s success in combating terrorism through Operations Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasaad and informed them that the terrorist networks had been dismantled, their sanctuaries eliminated under the overarching National Action Plan. “The dividend of these policies is empirically verifiable,” he added.
The adviser said that Pakistan remained committed to supporting efforts for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and noted that Quadrilateral Coordination Group process remained a credible and effective vehicle to facilitate reconciliation and restore peace, stability and economic prosperity in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan look forward to constructive engagement with the United States on all efforts and initiatives that would lead to a stable and prosperous Afghanistan,” he said.
He said Pakistan was also ready to strengthen and deepen its partnership with the US to counter the new and emerging terrorism threats, including the expanding footprint of the militant Islamic State group in the region.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2017