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COAS urges US not to blame Pakistan for its failures

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Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa gives his speech on day two of the 54th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany, on February 17, 2018. —AFP
Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa gives his speech on day two of the 54th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany, on February 17, 2018. —AFP

ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Saturday asked the US to stop blaming Pakistan for its problems in Afghanistan and instead search for the reasons for its failures.

He was speaking at the Munich Security Conference where military chiefs and civilian leaders have gathered to discuss the world’s most pressing security issues. The conference is a three-day event.

Tensions between Islamabad and Washington intensified after the announcement of Trump administration’s strategy for South Asia and Afghanistan, which was very critical of Pakistan for its alleged inaction against terrorist sanctuaries allegedly used for sustaining the insurgency in Afghanistan.

A bilateral engagement process started afterwards to find common ground, but the National Security Strategy document unveiled by the US, President Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet, and suspension of security aid left little doubt that the extensive Pak-US talks had failed to resolve the differences.

Almost at the same time as suspension of security aid, Pentagon quietly opened another channel with the GHQ over the problems in security cooperation. The GHQ later shared broader sense of conversations with US Centcom Commander Gen Joseph Votel and an unnamed American senator.

It is widely believed the GHQ is running a secret dialogue with the US. Recently, at the corps commanders’ conference the military’s top brass had signalled its desire for cooperation with the US.

In Munich the army chief again categorically denied the existence of terrorist sanctuaries on the country’s soil and recalled the steps taken to prevent unauthorised movements across the porous border.

Gen Bajwa said that Pakistan was being attacked from terrorist hideouts on Afghan soil. He also emphasised the need for repatriation of 2.7 million Afghan refugees currently residing in Pakistan.

Pointing to the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Islamic State safe havens, he said terrorists had established sanctuaries on the Afghan soil along the border with Pakistan.

Gen Bajwa said Pakistan had rendered a lot of sacrifices for defeating terrorism. He also underscored the importance of international cooperation against terrorism.

Speaking about the operations launched in the country against terrorists, he said that besides kinetic operations, a lot of emphasis had been put on cutting off their financial sources.

He said Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations were being carried out under a National Action Plan.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2018