US asks Pak army chief to continue action against terrorists

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Washington, Nov 22: The United States has asked Pakistan's powerful Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif to continue comprehensive actions against terror groups and their safe havens not only along the border with Afghanistan but also in other parts of his country.

Sharif, who held a wide range of bilateral and regional discussions with top officials of the Obama Administration, was given credit and praised for his recent military action against terrorist safe havens in North Waziristan. This is his first official visit to the US since becoming the chief of army staff in November 2013.

But given the bitter experience in the past, wherein the Pakistan Army took selective actions against terrorist groups, Gen Sharif and his accompanying delegation was clearly told about American concerns that Pakistan is not that serious in taking actions against some of the dreaded terrorist groups like Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Terrorists

"Pakistan's delegation stressed the importance of US civilian and military assistance, and we stressed the importance of the sustainability of that assistance. "However, Pakistan must continue to take action against terrorist groups and their safe havens.

That's a major concern for the administration and the Congress," a State Department official told PTI on condition of anonymity. In the State Department, Gen Sharif met Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Dan Feldman.

At the White House, he met National Security Advisor Susan Rice and at the Pentagon, he met Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey along with Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and separately with the US Army Chief.

"The group discussed the positive momentum gained through recent, high-level discussions between Afghan and Pakistani officials, Pakistan's progress in its fight against militants, and US intent to sustain security assistance that improves the Pakistan military's counterinsurgency capabilities against militant groups within its borders," Department of Defense Spokesperson Maj Bradlee Avots told.

Sharif, who has spent quite a considerable amount of time with leaders of the US Central Command in Tampa, also met some of the influential lawmakers including heads of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Armed Services Committee.

According to informed Congressional sources, Gen Sharif was told in clear terms about their concerns on the continued presence of terrorist safe heavens and the reluctance of the Pakistan Army to take action against groups like Haqqani network and LeT. 

PTI

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