WASHINGTON: Pakistan is welcoming a U.S. military offer to take action against militants involved in cross-border raids against Pakistan from Afghan soil. Pakistani officials say the move “augurs well” for regional counterterrorism cooperation, according to Voice of America.
General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul that his offer was meant to discourage Pakistan’s army from shooting at civilians across the Afghan border while responding to border raids by militants.
“We have also offered if they [Pakistan] have a concern about anything on this side of the Durand Line [the border] to let us know and we will act against it so that it is not necessary for cross-border shelling to occur,” said the U.S. general.
General Nicholson also emphasized the need for improving border coordination to address mutual concerns.
“I think the concern now is that we improve the mechanisms for control along the Durand Line so that we may have mechanisms to consult before people start shooting and not after innocent people have been displaced,” the general observed.
Mushahid Hussain, who heads the defense affairs committee of the Pakistani Senate, said Nicholson’s remarks are an acknowledgment of Islamabad’s “valid and justifiable” concerns regarding security management of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
“The U.S. promise, at long last, to address these core concerns augurs well not just for Pakistan-Afghanistan border management but also for Pakistan-U.S. counter-terror cooperation,” said Hussain.
Officials in Pakistan maintain anti-state fugitive militants linked to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban are using sanctuaries in Afghan border areas for plotting cross-border terrorist attacks, taking advantage of the nearly 2,600 kilometer, largely porous border between the two countries.