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Bajwa asks Kabul to reciprocate anti-terror moves

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KABUL: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa speaks during the conference on Tuesday. Gen John Nicholson, the commander of the coalition forces in Afghanistan, is also seen.—Online
KABUL: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa speaks during the conference on Tuesday. Gen John Nicholson, the commander of the coalition forces in Afghanistan, is also seen.—Online

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has reassured Kabul and Washington that Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations are targeting the elements that could be carrying out attacks in Afghanistan and called for a reciprocal action against the sanctuaries from where attacks against Pakistan are being directed.

Gen Bajwa was speaking at the ‘Chiefs of Defence Conference’, which was attended by US Central Command Commander Gen Joseph Votel, commander of Reso­lute Support Mission in Afghanistan Gen John Nicholson, and the military chiefs of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The conference was held in Kabul ahead of Nato defence ministers’ meeting scheduled to be held on Feb 14 and 15.

Addressing the conference, the COAS said all terrorist sanctuaries had been eliminated from Pakistan’s soil, however, “residual signatures of the terrorists who take advantage of the presence of 2.7 million Afghan refugees and absence of effective border security coordination, are also being traced and targeted through the ongoing operation Radd-ul-Fasaad”.

COAS assures security conference of Pakistan’s operations against those elements which can carry out attacks in Afghanistan

The participants in the conference agreed to continue cooperation for peace and stability in the region.

Afghanistan intends to use such conferences to develop a regional security strategy to counter terrorism, particularly the growing footprint of Daesh, and to check narcotics trafficking.

Speaking about the aims and objectives of the Kabul moot, Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said that the conference intended to find ways to jointly deal with both terrorism and narco-trafficking. The strategy, he hoped, would also help in countering Daesh.

Gen Bajwa’s comments rebutted the US and Afghan allegations that terrorist sanctuaries on Pakistani soil were being used for sustaining insurgency in Afghanistan. These allegations had widened the mistrust between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The two countries’ recent attempt at initiating a bilateral engagement plan — Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity — hit an impasse because of the lingering concerns.

The COAS reiterated Pakistan’s commitment about not allowing the use of its territory against any other country and called for reciprocity.

Alluding to anti-Pakistan rhetoric being spewed from Kabul and Washington, the army chief said: “Collabo­rative approach and persistence is the answer to all challenges, for which Pakis­tan is ready to play its part.”

The meeting also discussed plans for countering narcotics trafficking. Besides, raging militant violence, the spike in poppy production, which hit record level this year, is also a key concern. It is said that 65 per cent of the funding of Taliban militant activities comes from narcotics trade.

The army chief said that the path to regional peace and stability passed through Afghanistan, add news wire agencies.

In a statement about the conference, the spokesman for Nato-led forces, Captain Tom Gresback, said that the event “afforded leaders the opportunity to meet in person and identify opportunities to protect and promote common interests, specifically pertaining to securing a lasting peace for Afghanistan and stability for the region.”

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2018