April 18, 2017
Leave proxies, adopt diplomacy, US tells Pakistan
Gen McMaster says it’s in Pakistan’s interest to go after terror groups less selectively than they have in the past; Nawaz says meaningful Pak-India engagement only way forward to resolve all issues; McMaster also calls on Gen Bajwa; arrives in Pakistan on unannounced visit
ISLAMABAD: A day before arriving in Pakistan on Monday, US National Security Adviser (NSA) Lt-Gen HR McMaster said the best way for the Pakistani leaders to pursue their interest in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy and not through the use of proxies that engage in violence.
Talking to Tolo News during a stop in Afghanistan, Gen McMaster said: "As all of us have hoped for many, many years that the Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after these groups less selectively than they have in the past and the best way to pursue their interest in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy not through the use of proxies that engage in violence."
Gen McMaster arrived in Islamabad on an unannounced visit. It was the first visit by a top member of President Donald Trump's administration to Pakistan. McMaster's visits are being closely watched for clues as to the Trump administration's future course of action in the region.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said Mr. McMaster had "assured the prime minister that the new administration was committed to strengthening bilateral relations and working with Pakistan to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the wider South Asian region."
Talking to General McMaster at the Prime Minister's House, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made it clear to the US that sustained dialogue and meaningful engagement were the only way forward to resolve all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India, including the Kashmir dispute.
The US dignitary assured the prime minister that President Donald Trump's administration was committed to a strong relationship with Pakistan. General McMaster conveyed the greetings of President Trump and assured the prime minister that the new administration was committed to strengthening the bilateral relations and working with Pakistan.
Nawaz welcomed the visiting dignitary and apprised him of the efforts and initiatives of his government that had resulted in a marked improvement in the overall security situation.
He emphasized that the developments, which fully captured the spirit of a "new Pakistan" were being widely acknowledged and appreciated by the international community.
He said across-the-board consensus achieved by his government to combat extremism and terrorism and structural reforms in economy had laid the foundation of a moderate, progressive and democratic Islamic Republic that was ready to do business with the United States and the world at large.
He said as a longstanding friend and a partner, Pakistan was looking forward to forging a strong and mutually beneficial partnership with the US and to working with the new US administration, to promote peace and security in the region and beyond.
Nawaz reaffirmed his commitment to a peaceful neighbourhood and apprised Gen McMaster of the steps taken by Pakistan to reach out to both India and Afghanistan.
Sharing his concerns over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the continuing impasse, the prime minister conveyed Pakistan's readiness to work with the international community to explore ways in which the Afghan crisis can be resolved.
On relations with India, the prime minister reiterated his firm conviction on sustained dialogue and meaningful engagement as the only way forward to resolve all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including the Kashmir dispute.
He welcomed President Trump's willingness to help India and Pakistan to resolve their differences particularly on Kashmir and noted that this could go a long way towards bringing sustainable peace, security and prosperity to the region.
The delegation comprised US Ambassador David Hale, Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Laurel Miller, National Security Council Senior Director for South Asia Lisa Curtis and National Security Council Director for Pakistan John Jay Wise.
The meeting was also attended by Minister for Finance Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi, National Security Adviser (NSA) Lt. Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua, Secretary to the Prime Minister Fawad Hasan Fawad, Foreign Secretary Ms. Tehmina Janjua and other senior government officials.
General McMaster also called on Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed the bilateral relations and regional issues, including peace efforts in Afghanistan, the ISPR said in a statement.
The US dignitary appreciated Pakistan’s democratic and economic development and its efforts in the war on terror. Later, he left for Washington.