Asif informs US of indiscriminate approach against militants

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday told his US counterpart Rex Tillerson Pakistan has pursued a zero-tolerance and indiscriminate approach in its campaign against "all terrorist and militant groups".

Asif, who met Tillerson in Washington, raised the issue of US President Donald Trump's retooled Afghan policy, reiterating Islamabad's desire for "peace and stability in Afghanistan", read a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

The foreign minister said Pakistan has pursued a zero-tolerance and indiscriminate approach in its campaign against "all terrorist and militant groups".

"In addition to huge human and material cost incurred by Pakistan, our cultural ethos as a moderate state had suffered due to protracted instability in Afghanistan, he added.

Asif informed the US diplomat about the strong public reaction in Pakistan regarding the pronouncement of the US Administration’s South Asia Policy, which, he said, was based on "inadequate recognition of Pakistan’s sterling contribution in the fight against terrorism".

Inviting Secretary Tillerson to visit Islamabad to continue their discussions, the minister stressed that a broad-based and structured framework for dialogue would best serve the two countries' mutual interests.

The meeting came after the top US military official accused Pakistan's top spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of having ties with militant groups.

“It is clear to me that the ISI has connections with terrorist groups,” Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

After Dunford remarks, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said the United States would try “one more time” to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan before President Donald Trump would turn to options to address Islamabad’s alleged support for militant groups.

Relations between the two countries have been frayed over the past decade. While officials have long questioned the role Pakistan has played in Afghanistan, the comments by Mattis are likely to cause concern in Islamabad and within the Pakistan military.

“We need to try one more time to make this strategy work with them, by, with and through the Pakistanis, and if our best efforts fail, the president is prepared to take whatever steps are necessary,” Mattis said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Mattis added that he would be traveling to Islamabad soon, but did not give more details.

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