Islam’s Official Visit to US – Explains Pakistan’s Stance On Drones
Lt. Gen. Islam separately met US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman and Lt. Gen (retd) Douglas Lute, who is President Obama s special advisor for Afghanistan and Pakistan in Washington, DC on Thursday, said Dunya News and the Media Reports. “They discuss security issues concerning both countries, particularly on the Pak-Afghan border, which have been the sticking point during the last year or so,” .
The US officials emphasised the importance of Pak-US relationship and Pakistan’s role in the region, particularly for peace in Afghanistan. They stressed importance of improved cooperation on the border to avoid tragic incidents like the Salala attack last year that killed 24 Pakistan soldiers. Pakistan had stopped NATO supplies from the ground routes in Pakistan, and these were only reopened recently after the US tendered a formal apology.
Gen. Zaheer explained Pakistan’s stance on drones and demanded the US to help increase capability of F-16s so that Pakistan could strike the terrorist hideouts in the tribal region on its own. He also raised the issue of cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistani territory and demanded that these be stopped forthwith. Pakistan s ambassador to US, Sherry Rehman was also present in the meetings.
The US officials again questioned Pakistan’s reluctance to go after Haqqani network in North Waziristan and pointed out that this could have serious repercussions for both the countries in their joint pursuit against terrorists. Gen. Islam argued Pakistan s position on the issue and said that the country was not taking sides with any particular group.
Pakistan s spy chief also had meetings with some key Congressmen and Senators. Although all critical issues were discussed candidly, but the overall tone in the meetings remained quite cordial as the US officials are making an effort to build a rapport with the new DG ISI, who is on his maiden trip to the United States, and increase the level of military-military cooperation.
“Both sides agreed to undertake a fresh start after last year s problems and rebuild relationship by finding common grounds. Intelligence sharing to go after key terrorists was also agreed,” sources revealed. The official channels on both sides remained tight lipped about the meetings and discussions that took place there in a desperate bid to keep it away from media glare.
The US authorities consider Pakistan s cooperation vital for peace in the region, particularly alongside the Pak-Afghan border, and for the peaceful end to the ongoing war in Afghanistan. DG ISI had earlier met Director CIA, Lt. Gen. (retd) David Patraeus at Langley Park in Virginia on Tuesday and will round-off his meetings on Friday before returning to Pakistan.