Pakistan, US resume defence consultation talks to combat militancy

Islamabad, PTI | Updated : 08 December 2014, 05:53 PM

Pakistan and the US have resumed their talks for devising joint strategies to combat militancy along the restive Pak-Afghan border, days after America handed over a top Pakistani Taliban militant to the country.

The talks were held amid signs of improvement in relations between the defence establishments of the two countries, Dawn reported.

“Tensions of the recent past are being removed and a new consensus is emerging,” said a senior Pakistani diplomat while commenting on the talks being held in Washington. “Now there are more convergences than differences.”

The talks will focus on the post-2014 US military strategy for the Pak-Afghan region and on Pakistan’s campaign to eradicate terrorism.

“There is a realisation that the campaign must target terrorists on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border,” the diplomat said. “Failure on one side will have repercussions on the other side too.”

Pakistani delegation led by Secretary Defence retired Lt Gen Alam Khattak reached Washington last night for the 23rd meeting of the US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group, which was founded to devise joint strategies for combating militancy in the Pak-Afghan area.

The Defence Consultative Group allows both sides to exchange views and coordinate defence policy with the goal of strengthening defence cooperation to support each country’s security interests.

The meeting is being held after visit of army chief General Raheel Sharif to the US last month. The Pakistan delegation’s confidence got a boost after the security force killed a key al-Qaeda leader in the restive tribal region over the weekend.

On Saturday, the US had handed over Latif Mehsud, a close aide to the former chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Hakimullah Mehsud, to Pakistan along with two other militants.

The transfer of Latif underlines the improving relations between the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan has long demanded that Afghanistan hand over militants operating in its territory, and the issue was a source of tension between Pakistan and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

First Published: Monday, December 08, 2014 05:51 PM
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