US senators visit South Waziristan, praise advances made by military

Published July 3, 2017
ISPR says that the five-member delegation of US senators had been briefed on socio-economic development in the Agency. Photo: ISPR
ISPR says that the five-member delegation of US senators had been briefed on socio-economic development in the Agency. Photo: ISPR

A visiting United States (US) Congressional delegation led by Senator John McCain was taken on a tour of South Waziristan by Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday.

The five-member delegation, which includes Senators Lindsey Graham, Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Warren and David Perdue — all members of the influential Armed Services Committee of the US Senate, which has legislative oversight of US military affairs — had also expressed a desire to visit the LoC.

The delegation was scheduled to visit the LoC later in the day, but the trip could not take place due to bad weather, a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

During their visit to South Waziristan, the delegation was briefed on recent measures taken for the improvement of the fencing of the Pak-Afghan border and enhanced surveillance.

The delegation was also briefed on socio-economic development efforts in the Agency, the ISPR stated in a series of tweets.

Speaking at the event, Senator McCain stressed the importance of continued cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"We talked about many issues, including the importance of Afghan-Pakistan cooperation and relationship along the border and we are confident that with the right cooperation and the right strategy, we can see success here in this very long struggle," he said.

Senator Graham expressed his satisfaction with the progress against the fight against terrorism. "I cannot stress how impressed I am with what's happened in the last two years. It speaks well of the Pakistani Army and the people in this region," he said.

"There's no turning back now. They have rejected terrorism, and it's up to us to keep working together and make sure that terrorism stays out of this area," he added.

Senator Whitehouse lauded the military's efforts in curbing terrorism, saying: "Never crossed my mind I'd be visiting South Waziristan, let alone a peaceful South Waziristan. So my congratulations to the Pakistani military."

A day earlier, the US senators had 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.

The delegation had 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 relationship between the US and Pakistan has been strained at times, with Washington calling on Islamabad to 'do more' in the fight against terrorism.

However, McCain described US engagement with Pakistan in the region as “important” in his meeting with Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz, according to a foreign ministry statement.

Aziz for his part vowed that Pakistan remained committed to “constructive engagement” with the US in the efforts to create a “stable and prosperous” Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the delegation had also met with Gen Bajwa, who called US cooperation a “key factor” in security.

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