WASHINGTON: The State Department said on Wednesday that the United States would continue to expand its security partnership with Pakistan.

At a news briefing in Washington, a US official also emphasised the need to ensure that international assistance sent to Afghanistan did not reach “unintended recipients”.

When reminded of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s offer to work with the US on the shared targets of international peace and regional security, Spokesperson Matthew Miller said Washington was also willing to do so.

The prime minister made this offer earlier this week while responding to a friendly letter from US President Joe Biden, expressing the desire to strengthen bilateral ties.

“We will continue to expand the security partnership between the United States and Pakistan,” Mr Miller said, when asked how the US could help Pakistan fight the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups. “We have spoken to that a number of times from this podium. It has been a priority for us and will continue to be so,” he added.

Mr Miller disagreed with a journalist who claimed that the United States was keen to condemn the arrest of opposition leaders in India, but ignored those in Pakistan. “I would not agree with that characterisation. We have made clear on a number of occasions that we want to see everyone in Pakistan treated consistent with the rule of law, treated with respect for human rights as is our position with any country in the world,” he said

Responding to a question about an Indian intelligence operator’s attempt to assassinate a Sikh lawyer in New York, the US official said: “We have made clear to the government of India that we want to see them conduct a full investigation and we continue to look forward to the results of that investigation.”

Responding to another question about UN aid reaching militants in Afghanistan, he said: “We require all of our partners’ safeguard in place to ensure the assistance reaches those who need it.”

The United States, he said, also monitors “all of our assistance programmes” to ensure that US assistance did not “indirectly benefit the Taliban or could be diverted to unintended recipients.”

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2024

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