United States defense chief calls for deepening anti-terror cooperation with Pakistan

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif

Pakistan rejects U.S. demand for joint operation on its soil ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has flatly rejected the USA demand for joint operations against militants on the former's soil in the latest round of "inconclusive" talks between the two countries held this week, diplomatic sources told The News.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday chaired the corps commanders conference at General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.

While telling Defence Secretary James Mattis that enough is enough, Pakistan had told the visiting dignitary that its hands were tied up in the fight against terrorism and would no more accept the oft-repeated mantra of "do more" against alleged safe havens in the country, Roznama Express has learnt.

Mattis also met high-ranking officials from Pakistan's powerful military, including Lieutenant-General Naveed Mukhtar, the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency that U.S. officials say has links with Haqqani and Taliban militants.

En route to Pakistan Mattis told reporters he would not use pressure as a tactic, and insisted he would do "some listening". The fact that three separate press statements were issued after the meetings speaks volumes about disagreements among the parties, said a source. "I believe that we work hard on finding the common ground, and then we work together, so that's the approach I want to take".

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"If the United States could take these two steps, Pakistan would guarantee that its soil would never be used for any militant activities across the Afghan border", a source privy to the details of the meeting said.

The military's top brass in the meeting paid special attention to the impacts of the situation in Afghanistan on Pakistan as well as the region.

Pakistan is confident that the United States will amend its South Asia strategy announced by President Trump in August this year.

Pakistan has repeatedly expressed its serious concerns regarding India's role in Afghanistan to the U.S. and Afghan leadership, according to reports. The conference members made a decision to pursue the steps for establishment of peace in Afghanistan.

Responding to a longtime US demand for action against the powerful Haqqani network in the country, Abbasi reiterated that there are no safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan, the statement said.

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