USA assures Pakistan of no unilateral military action

USA assures Pakistan of no unilateral military action

The Pakistani military said both Votel and an unnamed US senator phoned Bajwa to discuss security cooperation "over the week".

The US aid suspension was announced days after Trump tweeted on January 1 that the United States had foolishly given Pakistan $33 billion in aid over 15 years and was rewarded with "nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools".

The statement added that Bajwa told Votel that "the entire Pakistani nation" felt betrayed by the recent US statements despite decades of cooperation.

But one Pakistani official who spoke on condition of anonymity said his government had breathed "a sigh of relief" as their US counterparts played down Trump's comments. The statement came after Trump froze up to $1.9 billion in funding to Pakistan, in a move created to force its military and intelligence apparatus to halt its support for the Afghan Taliban and other Islamist groups.

USA and Pakistani officials say neither has happened, and in conversations over the last week the two sides have tried to move past Trump's incendiary rhetoric.

Possibility of a unilateral action by the U.S. was key concern in Islamabad, especially after a Pentagon report on Afghanistan last month mentioned "unilateral steps in areas of divergence".

US Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel told Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa during a telephone call this week that the United States was not contemplating any unilateral action inside Pakistan, the Pakistani army said in a statement.

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Pakistani Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan went so far as to tell reporters this week that Pakistan would cease "a wide field of intelligence cooperation and defense cooperation" with the U.S. He did not elaborate. "So now it is the job of Pakistan to take seriously their commitment to us and most importantly to the people of Pakistan who ... should want to root out terrorists in their country as much as we want to root out terrorists in their country".

"We value mutual understanding of interests and concerns that we need to consider and might lead to a positive path forward", US Central Command spokesman Air Force Col. John Thomas said.

The army chief told the United States officials that Pakistan was fully aware of their concerns on the activities of Afghan nationals in Pakistan and "we are already undertaking multiple actions through Operation Raddul Fasaad to deny any residual capacity to terrorists of all hue and colour for which return of Afghan Refugees is an essential prerequisite".

According to the Pakistani military, the Chief of the Army Staff reiterated that Pakistan will not seek resumption of aid but expect honourable recognition of our contributions, sacrifices and unwavering resolve in fight against terrorism for peace and stability in the region.

Tensions between Pakistan and the U.S. have escalated US' complaints that Pakistan is giving shelter to terrorists that target American troops in Afghanistan.

The US officials were also apprised of Pakistan's moves to strengthen border controls unilaterally "but if Afghanistan genuinely feels affected from Pakistan, bilateral border management must be Kabul's top priority as well".

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