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Gen Bajwa calls terrorists common enemies of Pakistan, Afghanistan

Gen Bajwa calls terrorists common enemies of Pakistan, Afghanistan

A group of diplomats, military officials and security experts from the two countries earlier this month held their third off-the-record meeting here to discuss thorny issues, including Pakistan's support for peace in Afghanistan, increasing U.S. ties with India, New Delhi's role in Afghanistan and Islamabad's drift toward Beijing after initiation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

"China is, at the moment, supporting and helping Pakistan's economic development and neutralizing part of the American argument" pressuring Islamabad, said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst based in Lahore.

After President Donald Trump criticised Pakistan for harbouring terrorists, Islamabad has initiated Track II diplomacy with Washington to resolve existing differences over key issues and prepare a list of recommendations for betterment of ties.

"We would like to see effective and immediate U.S. military efforts to eliminate sanctuaries harbouring terrorists and miscreants on the Afghan soil, including those responsible for fomenting terror in Pakistan", those in attendance stressed.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired NSC meeting on Thursday in the capital where both civil and military leadership, including Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, were seated.

Referring to Donald Trump's assertion of payment of billions of dollars to Pakistan over the years, the committee said instead of any financial or material assistance, there should be understanding and recognition of Pakistan's efforts, contributions and sacrifice of thousands of Pakistanis and over 120 billion United States dollars of economic losses. At the same time, Pakistan's government stressed it doesn't want to alienate the US. We should engage America and tell the ground realities.

Some hope China might use its clout to end regional instability. "Islamabad backs Washington and Kabul in their efforts to restore peace in Afghanistan through talks", he said.

And China has huge interests in Pakistan.

This objective is not served when one country indulges in a vicious blame game against the other, the ambassador said. And the Chinese-funded port of Gwadar gives Beijing a deep-sea port in the Arabian Sea, close to mutual rival India-with whom China is now engaged in a Himalayan-border dispute.

The official said it was due to this that the strategy also focuses on confidence building measures between India and Pakistan and encourages them to come to the negotiating table.

"Pakistan's pivot toward China, particularly under the CPEC initiative, has been clear for some time", said Bilal Khan, a senior economist at Standard Chartered Karachi.

The danger of nuclear weapons was also mentioned by Trump in his Afghanistan and South Asia policy speech on Monday. It does not want to see Pakistan as economically stable and thriving country.

The senior Trump administration official said that during a compressive review, one of the major issues that continually came up for discussion and is very important to the United States was the nuclear danger in the region. "In all likelihood, Pakistan is unlikely to change its ways regardless of what threat or punishment Trump comes out with".



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