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US, Pakistan mull new anti-militant border strategy

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US, Pakistan mull new anti-militant border strategy
By Kamran Yousaf
Published: October 30, 2017
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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States are discussing a proposal that seeks to evolve an “institutionalised framework” of cooperation to deal with the challenge posed by militant outfits on either side of the Pak-Afghan border, officials said here on Sunday.

The proposal for setting up a new mechanism was discussed during Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent trip to Islamabad, where he held in-depth and wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

A senior Pakistani official familiar with the proposal told The Express Tribune that the mechanism, once finalised, would help address the trust deficit and also restore the confidence of Pakistan and the US in each other

The official, who asked not to be identified since he was not authorised to speak to the media on the subject, said the new mechanism “envisages sharing real-time intelligence” for robust and swift action against terrorist groups on either side of the border.

The idea is believed to have been first pitched by the Trump administration. Broader contours of the new framework were discussed during Secretary Tillerson’s talks with Pakistan’s civil and military leadership.

Tillerson talks tough to ‘incredibly important’ Pakistan

Tillerson also hinted at the new framework during his joint news conference with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi.

“We have extended to Pakistan certain expectations we have of their government and their leadership to deal with, in particular, these organisations and their leaders, and we are attempting to put in place a mechanism of cooperation through information sharing, not just information sharing, but action – action to be taken to deny these organisations the ability to launch attacks,” Tillerson said last week.

Pakistan, officials here said, has no problem with the proposal provided that it does not infringe upon its sovereignty.

The new mechanism is being discussed in the wake of a growing trust deficit between Pakistan and the US.

Despite the fact that Pakistan claimed to have taken full control of almost seven tribal agencies, Washington is far from convinced that the terrorist sanctuaries of the Haqqani network have been completely dismantled.

Tillerson to enlist Pakistan help for peaceful solution in Afghanistan

The US has been pressing Pakistan to take action against alleged safe havens of the Haqqani network and certain anti-India militant groups. Pakistan is adamant that there is no organised presence of any terrorist outfit in the country.

Secretary Tillerson was told that Pakistan was willing to take on any group provided US shares ‘actionable intelligence.’

The recent rescue of an American-Canadian couple was a testament to the fact that Pakistan was more than capable to take action on its soil if there was “credible intelligence”, according to the officials.

More discussions on the new framework are expected in a few weeks during the upcoming visit of Secretary of Defence James Mattis.
 

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