USA military says in 'continuous communication' with Pakistan

Erika Holt
January 13, 2018

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has told top United States generals that the entire Pakistani nation "felt betrayed" at criticism that it was not doing enough to fight terrorism, a statement released by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Friday.

He also conveyed to the army chief that the USA is not contemplating any unilateral action inside Pakistan but is seeking cooperation to tackle Afghan nationals who, in his view, use Pakistan's soil against Afghanistan, the ISPR said.

The Pakistani military said both Votel and an unnamed US senator phoned Bajwa to discuss security cooperation "over the week".

Spokesman Colonel John Thomas said Centcom is in "continuous communication" with the Pakistan military, including recurring conversations between Votel and Bajwa.

General Votel acknowledged the effectiveness of some of the recent actions taken by Pakistan to ensure that Pakistan's hospitality to Afghan refugees was not misused in any way, the ISPR said, adding that the USA general agreed that both countries stood to gain from the cooperative engagement.

The comment comes after President Donald Trump's administration withheld nearly $2 billion in security aid from Pakistan for allegedly failing to take "decisive action" against Taliban militants targeting U.S. personnel in neighboring Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press.

"(Bajwa) said that entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed over USA recent statements despite decades of cooperation", the army said, referring to the phone call between Bajwa and Votel.

"Even the USA ambassador", who was summoned for a meeting at Pakistan's Foreign Ministry after Trump's New Year's Day tweets, "didn't have an explanation for the tweet for the first couple of days", the official said.

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The ISPR spokesman said that during the conversation with Votel, General Bajwa noted Pakistan was fully aware of US concerns about the activities of Afghan nationals in Pakistan and that steps were being taken to counter them.

"[The army chief] reiterated that Pakistan will not seek resumption of [U.S.] aid but expects honorable recognition of our contributions, sacrifices and unwavering resolve in the fight against terrorism for peace and stability in the region".

The US military's Central Command did not comment on the content of their conversation.

"We value mutual understanding of interests and concerns that we need to consider that might lead to a positive path forward", Thomas said.

Washington has long accused Islamabad of harboring militants, a charge Pakistan's government and military routinely deny.

In the weeks since the Trump administration withheld almost $1 billion in security aid for Pakistan, Washington and Islamabad officials have been working to patch things up and avert a risky deterioration in their often troubled relationship.

However, the United States military is also concerned that the Pakistani army, which effectively runs foreign policy, might close the air and land corridors on which US-led troops and Afghan forces in landlocked Afghanistan depend for supplies.

In Washington, a senior State Department official expressed hope that the two countries would come to terms and that Pakistan would meet US requests for the handover of captured terrorism suspects. Islamabad restored the route only after the USA military formally apologized for the incident.

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