IN her meeting with American official Alice Wells, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua hopes the US review would result in a comprehensive political strategy to promote reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.—APP
ISLAMABAD: In a rare move by the military, Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Thursday condemned a Taliban attack on US troops in Afghanistan that had left two American soldiers dead.
“Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa offered heartfelt condolences on the death of two Special Forces soldiers who died in the incident (the terrorist attack on the United States forces in Kandahar),” the ISPR said in a statement.
Gen Bajwa noted that Pakistan because of facing “similar trial of blood in fight against common threat of terrorism” well understood the anguish of the bereaved families of the soldiers killed.
Acting US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Alice Wells meets foreign secretary
Two US troops were killed and four others were injured on Wednesday when a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a Nato convoy on the outskirts of Kandahar city (Afghanistan), which is host to one of the largest American bases in the country. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Seven US troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year. Last year the US lost nine soldiers in the war-torn country.
The Pakistan government has always condemned terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, but it was rare for the army to give its reaction to an attack on US forces.
Gen Bajwa’s reaction came as Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Amb Alice Wells visited Islamabad. Many believe that the rare reaction over killing of US soldiers in Afghanistan was meant to address concerns in Washington, where Islamabad is widely accused of not acting against Taliban and Haqqani network sanctuaries from where they are believed to launch attacks in Afghanistan including those on US-led coalition forces.
The Trump administration is reviewing its policy on Afghanistan. It is anticipated that the US could on completion of the review opt for a harsher stance on Pakistan. The killing of US soldiers in a Taliban attack could further stiffen the Trump administration’s attitude towards Pakistan. The relationship between Pakistan and the US has been icy since last year and it was always feared that any US casualties because of a Taliban attack could aggravate the situation.
Gen Bajwa had a day earlier met Afghan envoy Dr Omar Zakhilwal for continuing the discussions on addressing irritants that had been souring the bilateral relationship.
Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria at the weekly media briefing, while discussing the situation in Afghanistan, highlighted the measures being taken by Pakistan to counter cross-border terrorism.
“Cross-border terrorism has also been a matter of concern for both sides. That is why we are engaged in efforts involving effective border management,” Mr Zakaria said.
“In this regard, we have undertaken various measures that include plugging of gaps, infrastructure development of crossing points and other measures. Our efforts for border management are aimed at facilitating movement of people, trade and transit and curb the movement of undesired elements,” he added.
About Amb Wells’ trip, the spokesman said Pakistan considered it important as it provided an opportunity for discussions on bilateral relations in the context of US policy review on Afghanistan in regional perspective.
Amb Wells met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.
“Pakistan’s perspectives on challenges confronting the region including the security situation in Afghanistan were shared. The foreign secretary hoped that the ongoing US review would result in a comprehensive political strategy to promote reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan and the region,” a FO statement on the meeting said.
She recalled the progress that Pakistan had made in fighting terrorism and socio-economic challenges.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2017