- US defence secretary assured COAS Bajwa that the US would like to continue its cooperation with Pakistan in areas of common interest
- Pakistan is an essential partner in Afghan peace process and will play an important role in any political settlement in Afghanistan: Austin
(Karachi) The United States Department of Defense has acknowledged Pakistan's efforts in maintaining peace in the region, especially Afghanistan and its role in fighting terrorism, local media reported on Tuesday.
In a telephonic conversation with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pentagon chief and US Defence Secretary Lloyd J. Austin praised Pakistan’s role for peace in Afghanistan. He recognised Pakistan Government's continued support for the Afghan peace process.
The US defence secretary also assured COAS Bajwa that the US would like to continue its cooperation with Pakistan in areas of common interest.
Austin's remarks comes a day after he visited Afghanistan to know and understand the ground situation in the war-torn country.
The Pentagon chief had told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan is an essential partner in Afghan peace process and that building “relationships with Pakistan’s military would provide openings for the United States and Pakistan to cooperate on key issues”.
He stated that Pakistan will play an important role in any political settlement in Afghanistan. Austin mentioned that he would focus on shared interests between Washington and Islamabad which include training future Pakistan military leaders through the use of International Military Education and Training funds.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington said that Islamabad wanted a stand-alone relationship with the United States, although it’s willing to continue playing a positive role in the Afghan peace process.
Pakistan has been making efforts with US to make the Afghan peace process a success for maintaining peace and stability in the region. Pakistan has played a role of a facilitator in the intra-Afghan talks and facilitated the signing of the US-Taliban agreement. However, the peace process stalled after clashes between the Taliban and the Afghan forces.
In February 2020, a deal was struck between the United States and the Taliban in which it was agreed that Taliban prisoners will be released from Afghan prisons before peace talks between the militant group and the government.
On August 10, Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree to release the final batch of prisoners demanded by the Taliban as a condition to move to peace talks.
Later, the Afghan government released the Taliban inmates, kicking of intra-Afghan peace talks.