Regional stability a shared interest, says US

Published August 17, 2023
US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel addresses a press briefing on August 15. — Screenshot courtesy State Dept YouTube channel
US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel addresses a press briefing on August 15. — Screenshot courtesy State Dept YouTube channel

WASHINGTON: The United States has a shared interest with Pakistan in combating threats to regional stability, the State Department has said.

“We have a shared interest with Pakistan, quite candidly, in combating threats to regional stability and remain ready to work with Pakistan to combat militant and terrorist groups,” State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Tuesday.

The US official was responding to a question about enhanced militant activities in the region. In a recent statement, Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Masood Khan said that the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups were using weapons left behind by US troops for attacking targets in Pakistan.

According to US media reports, when the United States pulled out its forces from Afghanistan in 2021, it left behind around $7 billion worth of military equipment and weapons, including firearms, communications gear, and even armoured vehicles.

Washington says it supports Islamabad’s efforts to combat terrorism, ensure safety of its citizens

“We are in regular communication with the Pakistani leadership to discuss Afghanistan in detail, including through our counterterrorism dialogue and other bilateral consultations,” said Mr Patel when asked if the United States was willing to enhance Pakistan’s capabilities to combat terrorism.

“We also support the government’s own efforts to combat terrorism and ens­ure the safety and security of its citizens in a manner that promotes the rule of law.”

According to the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), Pakistan saw “a staggering 79 per cent increase in militant attacks dur­ing the first half of 2023 compared with the corresponding period last year”. Most attacks occurred in Khyber Pakh­tunkhwa province and its tribal districts.

In a recent report, the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee classified South Asia as a high threat region, with several states suffering attacks.

The report noted that many Al Qaeda and IS-affiliated terrorist groups (inclu­ding, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subconti­nent and the outlawed TTP) and IS-K are active in the sub-region. Much of the terrorist activity in the sub-region were IS-K-inspired, the report added.

At a subsequent briefing on Wednes­day, when asked about trade agreements the outgoing government had signed with Iran, Mr Patel said this was “something between Pakistan and Iran”.

“This is something that I would let our Pakistani partners speak to. I don’t have any comments,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2023

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