Pakistan, US reaffirm commitment to address common terrorism threat

Published March 7, 2023
State Department Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Christopher Landberg, FO Additional Secretary Syed Haider Shah and US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy US embassy website
State Department Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Christopher Landberg, FO Additional Secretary Syed Haider Shah and US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy US embassy website

Pakistan and the United States on Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment to address the common threat of terrorism, according to a press release by the Foreign Office (FO).

A US delegation had arrived in Islamabad on Sunday for counterterrorism talks, days after an official US report warned that terrorist groups were once again regrouping in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region.

The FO said the Pakistan-US Counter-Terrorism Dialogue took place on Monday and Tuesday in which the two sides “reaffirmed their commitment to address the common threat of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations” and shared their experiences in countering terrorist financing.

They also agreed to continue the counterterrorism dialogue and develop a “better understanding of the terrorist threat”.

“The two-day discussions covered a range of topics, including counter-terrorism cooperation at multilateral forums, assessment of regional counterterrorism landscape, cyber security and countering violent extremism.

“The US assistance projects in Pakistan were discussed, with a particular focus on capacity building in anti-money laundering and the justice sector. Both sides highlighted the importance of these projects in enhancing Pakistan’s capacity to counter terrorism,” the FO said.

Pakistan was led by FO Additional Secretary Syed Haider Shah and the US delegation was headed by State Department Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Christopher Landberg.

Diplomatic sources previously told Dawn that US-Pakistan defence talks, held in Washington last month, also focused on issues like counterterrorism, terrorism financing and intelligence sharing.

The United States expects Pakistan to back its efforts to prevent terrorist groups from renewing their roots in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime.

After recent terrorist attacks in Peshawar and Karachi, the United States assured Pakistan of its full support in fighting banned extremist groups such as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State-Khorasan who claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Surge in terrorism

Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country.

Since the talks with the TTP broke down in November, the militant group has intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the TTP.

According to statistics released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based think-tank, January 2023 remained one of the deadliest months since July 2018, as 134 people lost their lives — a 139 per cent spike — and 254 received injuries in at least 44 militant attacks across the country.

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