WASHINGTON: General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. at a hearing on his nomination as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has observed that it was in US interest to have an “enduring partnership” with Pakistan.
He said the relationship was fundamental to US vital national security interests.”We will need to continue cooperation with Pakistan to defeat al-Qaeda, support Pakistan’s stability, and achieve a lasting peace in Afghanistan.”
There are common strategic interests of defeating al-Qaeda, ensuring regional stability and furthering the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology.
During the hearing, Gen Dunford, responded to questions on issues ranging from challenges of nuclear weapons, countering ISIL in Iraq and Syria, Afghanistan campaign and relations with Pakistan. The hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee was held on July 9.
According to the advanced questions and replies from the general, posted on the official website of the US Senate, Gen. Dunford said that Pakistan and the United States also share the goal of a stable peaceful Afghanistan.
Asked what would be his recommendations, if any, regarding the reduction or cessation of Coalition Support Funds as U.S. troops presence draws down in Afghanistan, he replied “It is in our interests to have an enduring partnership with Pakistan”.
“As our mission in Afghanistan transitions, there remains a need for our mutually beneficial relationship,” he added.
On the current relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said it appeared to have improved since the election of President Ghani.
“It is clear that security in Afghanistan and Pakistan are linked. Both sides are working to ensure that concrete steps are taken to enhance their bi-lateral relationship and cooperation.”
To a question he said: “Their actions in North Waziristan and other areas of western Pakistan have disrupted groups that are athreat to U.S. personnel and objectives in Afghanistan.”
He lauded Pakistan’s support in maintaining transit and provide security along the ground lines of communication (GLOCs) through Pakistan.
To another question, he said that Pakistan was taking demonstrable steps to disrupt the improvised explosive devices (IED) network. “Pakistan recognizes that improvised explosive devices (IED) are a shared problem. They suffer significant casualties within Pakistan due to IED attacks. We are making progress in the area of counter-IED cooperation,” he said.