ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia have expressed “grave concern” over growing threat of the militant Islamic State (IS) group in the region.
The concern was expressed at the seventh meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism held here on Wednesday.
Noting their “grave concern”, the two sides observed that “the returning IS fighters from the conflict zones to countries of origin or third countries constitute a major security threat to various parts of the world, including this region”.
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They emphasised the need for regional cooperation to counter the threat.
Last month, foreign ministers of Pakistan and Russia Khawaja Asif and Sergey Lavrov had at their meeting in Moscow expressed deep concern over presence of IS in Afghanistan and criticised the US and Nato for ineffective handling of the situation. The two stayed short of accusing the US and Nato of allowing IS’s proliferation in Afghanistan, whose terrorists are now camped on the borders of Pakistan and Central Asian Republics neighbouring Afghanistan.
Mr Lavrov had on that occasion criticized the US and Nato for failing to provide explanations about the flights of unmarked helicopters to areas having IS presence. Khawaja Asif, meanwhile, sharing the concern had said: “Some of the IS terrorists have been relocated or have relocated themselves from the Middle East to Afghanistan, particularly its northeastern parts. This is very alarming.”
According to Afghan media, IS carried out 60 deadly attacks in Afghanistan last year.
The bilateral dialogue covered the counter-terrorism situation at the regional and global level, actions taken by both countries to tackle the menace of terrorism as well as bilateral cooperation on the issue.
“The two sides reaffirmed the commitment for promoting bilateral cooperation for countering terrorism. They also agreed to cooperate at the United Nations and other international fora for combating terrorism,” the Foreign Office said.
Relations between Pakistan and Russia have been improving for years now and the two have made major great strides since 2007 when the ties were renewed after a long estrangement during the cold war era.
The evolving geo-strategic landscape and more specifically India’s growing closeness with the US and the lingering conflict in Afghanistan have been major contributors in promoting convergence between the two.
Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2018