Biden sought to clear misconceptions during Pak visit:official

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jan 14 (PTI) US Vice President JosephBiden raised with the Pakistani leadership the issue ofmilitants'' sanctuaries inside the country and sought to undothe misconception that America was violating its sovereigntyduring his recent visit to Islamabad.

A senior official accompanying Biden on his way backfrom his visit to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq toldreporters that the Vice President concluded that there is agrowing awareness in Pakistan that extremism is a seriouschallenge.

"It is the extremists in Pakistan who are violatingPakistan''s sovereignty and sullying its good name. And whatwe''re trying to do is to help Pakistan restore fullsovereignty," the Administration official said.

He said Biden during his visit to Islamabad talkedabout a number of misconceptions about US policy andintentions.

"And one of them is this notion that we are somehowviolating Pakistan''s sovereignty by helping its military dealwith extremism," he said.

"The Vice President has concluded from his discussionsthat increasingly there''s an understanding and an awareness inPakistan that at the end of the day, extremism is a problemthat we both confront," he said.

He said there are different groups with differentagendas, but they sometimes make common cause, and Pakistanisare increasingly coming to the conclusion that extremism writlarge is a problem for them.

The official said the assassination of the governor ofPunjab was an example of the threat posed by extremists toPakistan.

Biden also raised the issue of sanctuaries insidePakistan during his meetings with the leadership, he said.

"The issue of sanctuaries did come up, as we''ve said,also consistently. In terms of the effort in Afghanistan,dealing with sanctuaries is an important piece. I don''t wantto characterise the Pakistani response," he said.

Observing that Biden''s meeting with top Pakistan''sleadership, including the President, the Prime Minister andthe Army Chief were very good, the official conceded thatPakistanis have resource constraints and there is still workto do.

"They have challenges that they have to face. And wehave to work on it together," he said.

The official said US'' relationship with Pakistan hasbeen based on trends and policies built up over decades, andturning around problematic aspects of the relationship takestime, and it requires sustained dialogue and conversation.

"What we''ve seen over the past year is a significanteffort by Pakistan against a number of extremist groups. ThePakistanis have moved a significant number of forces from theIndian border," he said.

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