ISLAMABAD: Counselor of the US Department of State Derek Chollet on Thursday reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to help Pakistan deal with resurgence of terrorism in the country and said that the two countries were looking at ways to strengthen their military ties.

Talking to a group of journalists at the US Embassy after his meetings here, the senior State Department official said that US was “prepared to work with Pakistan as they’re trying to deal with this renewed threat to them”.

Though he confirmed that counter-terrorism cooperation was discussed in the military talks held a few days back in Washington and in his own meeting at the General Headquarters, he, however, did not share specifics of the planned cooperation.

“I don’t want to get into the details of that right now but we’re very much following their lead in terms of both the investigation and where that leads and ensuring that those who conducted these attacks are held accountable,” he maintained.

Says two nations looking at ways to strengthen military ties

He said the US officials were assessing the terrorist threat and how it was evolving. “We are looking at what we can do together to try to address that threat, because the last thing any of us wants to see is a return to where things were here 15 some years ago,” he added.

Military cooperation

“Well, we’re also looking at how to strengthen the military relationship,” he further said noting the long history of the military ties and how those had supported the broader bilateral relationship.

Chollet underscored the need for taking other elements of the relationship in tandem with the growth in the military ties. He said that the bilateral relationship has been in the past “defined solely or principally by our military to military ties”, but now other areas of cooperation like energy, environment and climate, and trade and investment are also being focused.

Economic crisis

Speaking about Pakistan’s rapidly aggravating economic crisis, the official said that US was working with both IMF and other international partners to help the struggling country.

He urged the government to undertake fundamental reforms to put the economy on track.

“There’s an eagerness from the US private sector to be more engaged, but in order for them to be engaged and to realise that potential, some of these reforms are necessary so people can have confidence in their investments here,” he said.

About the overall trajectory of the relationship, he said efforts were under way to reframe it.

He felt that the desired rebooting may not be achieved in the short term, but prospects of success were brighter over the longer term.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2023

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