Pak, US NSAs meet, agree to sustain ‘momentum’ in bilateral cooperation

WASHINGTON: National Security Advisers of Pakistan and the United States have agreed to “sustain the momentum in Pak-US cooperation” at their follow-up meeting in Washington on Thursday during which they also discussed the situation in Afghanistan.

In a tweet on Thursday night, NSA Moeed Yusuf, who conferred with his American counterpart Jake Sullivan, called the meeting “positive”, without elaborating.

This was their second meeting after Geneva in May, as part of the high-level bilateral engagements between the two countries, “We discussed the urgent need for a reduction in violence in Afghanistan and a negotiated political settlement to the conflict,” Jake Sullivan, the American NSA, said his tweet.

NSA Moeed Yusuf, who arrived in Washington on July 27, also wrote on Twitter, “Took stock of progress made since our Geneva meeting & discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. Agreed to sustain the momentum in Pak-US bilateral cooperation.”

Sullivan wrote that during the meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, regional connectivity and security, and other areas of mutual cooperation were discussed along with a need for a ‘negotiated political settlement to the conflict’ in Afghanistan.

Besides the meetings between NSAs of the two countries, US State Secretary Antony Blinken has had contacts with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. In addition, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has had conversations with COAS Gen Bajwa.

Blinken returned to Washington on Thursday evening after visits to India and Kuwait.
Before his departure from New Delhi, he told an Indian channel, “Pakistan has a vital role to play in using its influence with the Taliban to do whatever it can to make sure that the Taliban does not seek to take the country by force. And it does have influence, and it does have a role to play, and we hope that it plays it.”

Earlier this week, Yusuf said that Afghanistan is being embarrassed daily due to “idiotic” statements passed by its senior officials.

“Vitriolic & delusional statements from some spoilers in Kabul who, unfortunately for our Afghan brothers and sisters, are imposed on them as their senior officials & are constantly attempting to vitiate bilateral relations on purpose to deflect attention from their own failures,” Moeed wrote on his official Twitter handle.

He said that Afghanistan is being embarrassed daily due to these idiotic statements, adding that Afghans should rest assured that everyone can see through the nefarious agenda of these spoilers. “We will not let a handful of venomous minds affect Pakistan’s support to all Afghans for peace and stability,” he added.

The NSA said that Pakistan remained committed to facilitating an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan. “In this spirit, PM Imran Khan agreed to meet President Ghani recently to continue our engagement.”

On July 16, Prime Minister Imran Khan told Afghan President Ghani that Pakistan would be the last country to try to destabilise his country and stressed the need for the Afghan stakeholders and the international community to gear up efforts for a “politically negotiated settlement” there.

Responding to the speech of Ghani at a conference on ‘Central and South Asia Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities’ in Tashkent, Imran said that blaming Pakistan for the ongoing unrest in the war-battered country was “extremely unfair”.

“President Ghani, I want to make it clear to you that Pakistan will be the last country to think about supporting turmoil and unrest in Afghanistan,” the prime minister said. “Blaming Pakistan for what is going on in Afghanistan is extremely unfair…Peace in Afghanistan is our foremost priority.”

He asked Afghanistan to consider Pakistan as a “partner of peace” rather than blaming it for the ongoing unrest, which he said was the “outcome of using a military solution by the United States instead of a political one”.

Rejecting the assertions of Ghani made against Pakistan for “not supporting peace”, Imran categorically stated that Pakistan did not want turmoil in its neighbourhood because peace was in its own interest. He added that Pakistan would continue to support reconciliation in Afghanistan.

He mentioned that due to the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan suffered heavily in terms of its 70,000 casualties, besides facing huge economic instability. He also mentioned 3 million Afghan refugees and added that Pakistan did not have the capacity to bear another influx.

with additional input from TLTP

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