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WASHINGTON: The official White House year-ender has highlighted the joint US-Pakistan operation to rescue a North American couple from Taliban custody as one of its major achievements.

It also talks about the new US strategy for Afghanistan, launched in August this year, as a demonstration of the Trump administration’s resolve to win the Afghan war.

In October, Pakistani troops operating on US intelligence rescued Caitlan Coleman, her husband Joshua Boyle and their three children after locating them in the mountains of Kurram region.

The American woman and her Canadian husband spent nearly five years in Taliban hideouts in Pakistan and Afghanistan. All three children were born in captivity.

“This is a positive moment for our country’s relationship with Pakistan,” said President Trump while announcing the rescue operation at a White House event on Oct 12. He said the joint operation was “a sign that Pakistan is honouring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.”

Although previous US administrations had also asked Pakistan to do more, the Trump administration made it a key part of its new Afghan strategy.

While announcing the strategy, President Trump called upon Pakistan to “demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order and to peace” by disassociating itself from the “agents of chaos, violence and terror”.

The new strategy also warned against the possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists and being used against the United States.

These were perhaps the harshest remarks uttered against Pakistan by any US president over the course of their 70-year relationship, which has seen many ups and downs.

Pakistan says the new strategy is disappointing as it disregards Islamabad’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism and unfairly blames the country for Afghanistan’s failures.

The White House year-ender, however, insists that the new Afghanistan strategy “strengthens our support for Afghan security forces, delegates authority to military leaders, and demonstrates our resolve to defeat terrorism.”

The White House points out that in reaction to the new US South Asia strategy, Nato allies and partners increased troop contributions to Nato’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2017