No regional peace without Pakistan, US senator McCain says in visit

Posted July 03, 2017

He said Pakistan has a significant role for establishment of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have had a rocky relationship in the last few years, with both sides accusing each other of patronizing certain Taliban groups on their soil.

Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz met on Sunday a five-member delegation of U.S. senators led by Senator John McCain here.

Aziz said Pakistan's Kashmir policy is very clear and there is no change in it.

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Pakistan angrily reacted to the US decision to include a Kashmiri leader Syed Salahuddin in the list of foreign terrorists.

Pakistan was also upset at the recent USA arms deal with India signed during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington.

Experts on America's longest war say militant safe havens in Pakistan have allowed Taliban-linked insurgents a place to plot attacks in Afghanistan and regroup after ground offensives.

"Pakistan looked forward to constructive engagement with the U.S. on all efforts and initiatives that would lead to a stable and prosperous Afghanistan", he said.

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Islamabad had brokered a landmark peace dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban near Islamabad in July 2015, but the leak of news of the death of the Taliban's founding supreme leader Mullah Omer, and the subsequent death of his successor Mullah Akhtar Mansur in a US drone strike in 2016, damaged the already fragile trust between the two sides. "Sartaj Aziz apprised the U.S. delegation about Pakistan's success in combating terrorism through military operations and informed them the terrorist networks have been dismantled, their sanctuaries eliminated under the overarching National Action Plan", the official statement said. An official handout said that welcoming the United States senators, the adviser reiterated the importance of regular high-level contacts and particularly appreciated McCain, Graham and Whitehouse for their continued engagement and regular visits to Pakistan to promote understanding and cooperation.

The joint statement issued after the Trump-Modi visit gave the impression as if the USA has chose to depart from its traditional position on Kashmir.

McCain said the Kashmir issue should be resolved in a peaceful way through negotiation.

"The strategic partnership between Pakistan and the United States is critical to achieve peace and stability in the region and beyond", he said.

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He said "India is involved in gross human rights violations in the held territory but it has failed to suppress the voice of Kashmiris through the use of brutal force".