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US Congressional delegation visits North Waziristan

By Our Staff Reporter 2016-07-04
PESHAWAR: After a rare visit to North Waziristan to see the gains made by security forces during Zarb-i-Azb operation, a visiting US bipartisan Congressional delegation met the architects of Pakistan`s foreign policy in Islamabad on Sunday and was told that there was a dire need of maintaining strategic balance in South Asiaagainst the backdrop of the developing Indo-US relationship.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz informed the visiting delegation led by Senator John McCain, the chairman of US Senate Armed Services Committee, about Pakistan`s earnest efforts, particularly during the past few months, to keep the Pak-US partnership on track.

In what appeared to be a reference to the US support for India`s bid to become a member of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group, the adviser `with reference to recent developments concerning the India-US relations, emphasised the need to maintain strategic balance in South Asia,` said a Foreign Of fice statement.The US Senators assured Mr Aziz that the strengthening of the India-US bilateral ties did not in any way impinge upon or diminish the importance of US relations with Pakistan.

The statement said that thesenators also highlighted the significance of improved relations between India and Pakistan.

Recognising the need for a greatercontactbetweenPakistan and the US, they reiterated the importance the US government and Congressattachedto the stability and continued progress of Pakistan.They stressed that the Pakistan-US relations had maintained their strategic dimension over the decades and that the relationship would retain its vigourinthe years ahead.

Mr Aziz briefed the US delegation about recent meetings with the Afghan of ficials in Islamabad and on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Tashkent on the vital issues of PakistanAfghanistan border management, Afghan refugees and the peace and reconciliation process.

He stated that Pakistan remained committed to the Quadrilateral Coordination Group process in Afghanistan, which provided a broad and mutually agreed mechanismaimed at facilitating the government and people of Afghanistan to take the lead in restoring peace, stability and economic prosperity in their country.

Senator McCain and his colleagues welcomed the closer coordination between Pakistan and Afghanistan on various complex issues.

The US delegation, which returned from North Waziristan`s headquarters Miramshah, deeply appreciated the enormous success achieved by Pakistan in its counterterrorism campaign, which they said was so impressively visible during their trip.

They wished that other members of the US Congress were also present with them to witnessthe outcome of the successful military operations in North Waziristan themselves.

The US Congress will be briefed appropriately for continued support to Pakistan in its efforts towards economic development and complete eradication of terrorism from the country, they added.

Special Assistant to the PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry were also present.

Earlier, Senator McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Joe Donnelly reached North Waziristan to visit areas cleared of terrorists during Zarb-i-Azb operation that was started two years ago.

According to an Inter-Services Public Relations statement, they saw the erstwhile hideouts and communi-cation infrastructure that had been cleared of terrorists. They also met those soldiers and officers who were seriously wounded during the initial phases of the operation and had now voluntarily rejoined the battlefield.

The delegation was highly apprecia-tive of the army`s accomplishment of cleansing the entire area of North Waziristan right up to the Pak-Afghan border. They also commended the rehabilitation work being carried out by the army to resettle the displaced people back in their area.