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Islamabad,Kabul both working to increase stability in the region: Trump administration

24 March, 2017

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Islamabad,Kabul both working to increase stability in the region: Trump administrationWASHINGTON: In its first reaction to the situation in the Pak-Afghan region, the Trump administration said on Thursday that Islamabad and Kabul were both working cooperatively towards increased stability in the region.

A spokesperson for the State Department pointed to recent efforts for decreasing tensions between the two countries when asked for comments on Pakistan’s decision to reopen the border crossings.

“We welcome the reopening of the border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and credit both governments for their continuing efforts to work cooperatively towards increased stability in the region,” the spokesperson said.

Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary appreciated the US response to the reopening of the border and stressed the need for bilateral efforts to stop cross-border terrorist attacks.

“A border that is managed effectively is in the interest of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bilateral cooperation in this regard can help stop the cross-border movement of terrorists,” Mr Chaudhary said.

Pakistan closed crossings at the 2,600km-long porous border immediately after the Sehwan shrine bombing last month.

On Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered reopening of the crossings as a goodwill gesture and hoped that Kabul would address Pakistan’s concerns about terrorist sanctuaries on the Afghan side of the border.

The prime minister’s order followed an ice-breaking meeting between Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz and Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar in London last week. Britain hosted the meeting between the two neighbouring countries.

The United Nations welcomed the border reopening soon after it was announced and urged both governments to facilitate trouble-free movement of their citizens across the border.

The Trump administration, however, issued a delayed and cautious welcome as it has not yet announced its policy for the Pak-Afghan region. Although now in its third month, the new administration has not yet filled the two key posts at the State Department that deal directly with the region, that of Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia and the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The United States routinely condemns terrorist attacks on both sides of the border but usually avoids commenting on disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan other than urging both to reduce tensions.

Also, US drones continue to target the Taliban militants on both sides of the border.

Their latest victim was Qari Mohammed Yasin, a ‘commander’ of the so-called Punjabi Taliban who was involved in several high-profile terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

Ambassador Chaudhary, while talking to the media in Washington, said that Pakistan wanted better border management to end attacks.

“We need to ensure that cross-border movement is restricted to citizens only,” he said. “Terrorists must be stopped.” To achieve this target, he suggested regular contacts between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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