Strong Pakistan-Afghanistan ties imperative: US
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): In the aftermath of drawdown of US troops, it is critical that Pakistan has a strong relationship with Afghanistan and Islamabad continues to put pressure on the Taliban, Obama’s ambassadorial nominee for Pakistan told lawmakers on Tuesday.
“Given the drawdown in US forces in Afghanistan, it is all the more critical that relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan be strong and cooperative, and that Pakistan continue to put pressure on the Taliban to join an Afghan-led peace process,” David Hale, the nominee for US Ambassador to Pakistan, said during his confirmation hearing.
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Hale said relations with its neighbors play an important part in Pakistan’s security and prosperity.
Pakistan has undertaken important outreach to Afghanistan following the Afghan election, and the two countries have made some progress against terrorist safe havens on both sides of the border, he said.
Hale said US security assistance to Pakistan is equally important and is directly supporting Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency operations, clear terrorist safe havens, and stem the flow of deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which have killed far too many civilians and security personnel.
“Our security assistance, like our civilian assistance, is geared directly toward meeting critical U.S. national security objectives,” he said.
Hale said Pakistan has taken important actions on counter-terrorism that have brought to justice several senior al-Qa’ida leaders.
It launched a significant military operation in North Waziristan last June, capturing large weapons caches and closing safe havens for multiple terrorist groups.
“We welcome Pakistan’s commitment to target all militant groups on Pakistani soil equally – an objective that is absolutely in the interests of the United States, and one on which, if confirmed, I will work closely with the Pakistani government to advance,” Hale said.
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