ISLAMABAD – Pakistan urged the United States on Monday to take their bilateral relationship forward during the first visit by a US delegation since the suspension of security aid to the South Asian country over its perceived inaction against terror groups.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Alice G. Wells – who arrived in Islamabad on Monday morning – met with Pakistani Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua, for updates on recent anti-terrorist operations.
Wells “underlined the need for strengthening intelligence cooperation between the two sides to improve coordination in counter-terrorism efforts,” while the Pakistani foreign minister said the bilateral relationship needed to “move forward under an environment of mutual trust and respect,” the Pakistani ministry said in a statement.
It added that the US delegation was informed of recent anti-terrorist actions that have visibly improved the security situation in the country and region, although no details of these actions were provided.
Janjua said that strengthening border management mechanisms between Pakistan and Afghanistan was of vital importance in responding to border movement-related concerns.
In addition, she expressed concern over the use of Afghan territory by hostile elements against Pakistan.
This is the first visit to Pakistan by a senior US official since Jan. 4, when Washington announced the suspension of the coalition support funds in Pakistan until Islamabad takes “decisive” steps against terrorist groups.
The US Department of State did not specify the exact amount of the suspended aid but said it was significant.
The suspension came after US President Donald Trump had tweeted on Jan. 1 accusing Islamabad of “lies and deceit” and “giving safe haven to the terrorists,” and that the US “has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years.”
The US and Afghanistan have for years accused Pakistan of providing refuge to the Taliban’s Haqqani network, which stages attacks on US and Afghan troops, a claim that Islamabad denies.
Pakistan has defended its role in the war against terrorism, pointing to the figure of 60,000 deaths and economic losses worth $123 billion suffered since 2001.
US and Afghanistan have also accused Pakistan of giving shelter to Taliban factions, another claim rejected by Pakistan, although Afghan Taliban founder Mullah Omar died in a hospital in Karachi in 2013, according to the Afghanistan’s top intelligence agency, and his successor, Mullah Mansour, was killed in a drone strike in Pakistani territory in May 2016.