Pakistan supports Afghan peace process: COAS

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ISLAMABAD – Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said Pakistan supports an Afghan-led and owned peace and reconciliation process.

General Bajwa made the remarks during a meeting with US Central Command chief General Joseph Votel on Monday at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, according to an ISPR press realeas.

“Blame games are detrimental to enduring peace,” said Bajwa while referring to rhetoric against Pakistan following recent terrorists attacks in Afghanistan.

He added that Pakistan has conducted operations against terrorists of all “hue and colour” and there are no safe havens in Pakistan which are used against Afghanistan.

Bajwa, during the meeting with Votel, also expressed his commitment to fully cooperate with the US-led Resolute Support Mission in the neighbouring country.

The chief of army staff also emphasised on border security and intelligence sharing mechanisms with Afghanistan.

General Votel appreciated Pakistan’s efforts and sacrifices in the war against terrorism and laid a wrath at the Martyr’s Monument during his visit.

On Sunday, General Bajwa had telephoned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and suggested installing a “robust border management mechanism and intelligence cooperation” to restrict the movement of terrorists.

The US commander also had a meeting with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar where Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and ISI DG Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar were also present.

Dar in the meeting reiterated Pakistan’s desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan which he said was essential for regional stability. He stated that effective coordination among stakeholders and comprehensive political reconciliation process in Afghanistan was imperative to achieve these objectives.

The finance minister said that improvement in security and economic conditions would also ensure early return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan to their homeland.

Welcoming General Joseph Votel, Dar said Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with the United States and wishes to further enhance the political and military cooperation between the two countries.

He said that US support has been critical for the efforts against the menace of terrorism and violent extremism and hoped that such cooperation would continue in the future.

The minister stated that Pakistan is committed to rooting out terrorism and violent extremism and the initiation of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2014 was a clear manifestation of the government’s resolve. He stated that the operation was launched and sustained through country’s own resources. The operation also resulted in displacement of a large number of people, for whom the government made adequate arrangements, resulting in additional unbudgeted financial costs.

Finance minister also shared with the CENTCOM chief the Pakistan’s efforts for effective border management and stressed on the need for enhancement of similar efforts on the Afghan side. Dar reiterated Pakistan’s resolve not to allow its soil to be used against any country.

General Votel stated that the US acknowledged the human and material sacrifices made by Pakistan in fighting terrorism. He emphasised that continued military cooperation between the two countries was essential. He also stated that the commitment of the political and military leadership of Pakistan to counter terrorism was greatly appreciated.

The US Commander expressed that the improved security and economic environment in Pakistan was heartening. He hoped that the CPEC initiative will further strengthen Pakistan’s economy. The CENTCOM chief stated that robust border management was important for both Pakistan and Afghanistan. He assured US support to the two countries in this regard.