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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States at a tripartite meeting on Thursday vowed to eliminate the militant Islamic State group — also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh — from the region.

The meeting held in Kabul identified “information sharing, complementary efforts and enhanced cooperation” as the areas in which the three can cooperate for countering the IS in the region.

Director General Military Operations Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza led the Pakistani military delegation to the previously unheard of three-way arrangement against Daesh. The three met as the Pakistan government was reassessing President Donald Trump ties with the US in the aftermath of its new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

“Participants reaffirmed their resolve to continue fight against the common threat of terrorism,” a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) here said.

Pakistan, US and Afghanistan identify areas of cooperation

The meeting, moreover, took place as the IS claimed to have beheaded two men in Kunar province after accusing them of being American spies. The IS has established a foothold in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nangarhar provinces that border Pakistan. The terrorist group is feared to be expanding its activities to other parts of Afghanistan as well.

Pakistan, which last month concluded the Operation Khyber-IV that was aimed at preventing the ingress of the IS from across the border, is wary that Daesh is colluding with Pakistani terrorist groups that have taken up sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

Defence Ministry spokesman Maj Gen Dawlat Waziri was quoted by the Afghan media as having said that the tripartite meeting happened after a bilateral engagement between militaries of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The ISPR said the three sides discussed areas of mutual security interests and concerns during the meeting. This implies that besides talking about the growing threat of the IS, the three sides also deliberated on other issues of concern to them as well.

Bilateral meeting

Besides the trilateral arrangement, Pakistan and Afghanistan held their bilateral meeting.

The agenda of the meeting included issues related to cross-border fire and attacks, counterterrorism coordinated actions on the respective side along the Pak-Afghan border and detainees’ exchange.

“Both sides agreed to make progress in line with the commitments made at recent high-level meetings and formulate an action plan which will contribute towards improving security along the Pak-Afghan border through enhanced cooperation,” the ISPR said.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2017