WASHINGTON: The United States announced head money on the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders and two other suspected Pakistani militants on Thursday as Islamabad urged Washington to resume a structural dialogue between the two countries.

The US Department of Justice has placed a head money of $5 million on Mullah Fazlullah and of $3m each on Mangal Bagh and Abdul Wali, official sources told Dawn.

The media reported earlier on Thursday that US drone strikes had killed 21 TTP activists in Afghanistan, including Mullah Fazlullah’s son.

“In some areas, they do bring pressure on us, we have made clear that we will do whatever we think is in our national interests,” said Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, while explaining the outlines of recent US-Pakistan talks. “The important message that we have to give is, we will do what’s in our national interests.”

Tehmina says Washington should know Pakistan no longer has influence to bring Taliban to talks

Ms Janjua, who is in Washington for bilateral talks, stressed the need for resuming structural dialogue between Pakistan and the United States but also reminded Washington that other countries in the region, particularly India, were bringing pressure on Pakistan. The Indian border shelling, particularly across the Line of Control, was like an undeclared war, she added.

The foreign secretary underlined Pakistan’s keen interest in promoting regional integration in South Asia, saying regional connectivity was a core part of the country’s strategy to fight extremism and terrorism.

Ms Janjua noted that in their recent statements, American officials had expressed their commitment to continuing talks with Pakistan, which creates a ground for rebuilding the ties.

The foreign secretary is scheduled to meet US Under Secretary of State John Sullivan and Deputy National Security Adviser Nadia Schadlow.

On Tuesday, US Defence Intelligence Agency said Pakistan’s efforts in the war against terrorism had some success in reducing violence from militancy and sectarianism.

A report submitted to US Senate’s Armed Services Committee says: “Islamabad is likely to proceed with its counterinsurgency operations and border management efforts along its western border while sustaining counterterrorism and paramilitary operations throughout the country. These efforts have had some success in reducing violence.”

It added: “Pakistan will look to the United States and the Afghan government for support against anti-Pakistan fighters in Afghanistan.”

Ms Janjua said that since August, when the Trump administration announced its strategy for South Asia, Pakistan has clearly outlined its position.

“We are a responsible state, there’s no knee-jerk reactions. We gave the same response in January to President Trump’s tweet and when the United States brought pressure on us in FATF.”

The foreign secretary said that while there were points in recent US policies that were difficult for Pakistan but “a policy seems different when it is rolled out”.

The United States and Pakistan have the same “end view, peace and stability in Afghanistan, denying safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists,” she said. “We too have very clear concerns about safe havens and sanctuaries provided to anti-Pakistan elements.”

She said while the US had assured Pakistan that it would not allow terrorists to use the Afghan territory against Pakistan, India was strongly supporting anti-Pakistan elements in those safe havens.

Ms Janjua, however, acknowledged that there were differences on modalities, Pakistan “wants less on kinetics and more reconciliations, as ultimately it’s reconciliation that produces results”.

She said that US kinetics had caused 10,000 deaths a year in Afghanistan for the last three years, which must stop.

The foreign secretary said the US expects Pakistan to force the Taliban to negotiate. “Maybe we had some influence in the past some effect, but now we do not have that kind of influence to force them to talk,” she said. “So, the Afghan government has to offer incentives to the Taliban to come to the table.”

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018