October 24, 2018

Pakistan army chief: U.S. general called, offered assurances

13 January 2018, 05:30 | Anna Jefferson

US general called, offered assurances: Pakistan army chief

American Aid Cuts: Pakistan won't change its policy

During the call, Votel told Bajwa that Washington is concerned about Afghans using Pakistan as a staging ground for attacks against the United States inside Afghanistan.

The ISPR released the detail after Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal informed journalists at his weekly media briefing that Pakistan and the United States were communicating "with each other on various issues of mutual interest at different levels".

He also told the American general that that the "entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed" over the U.S. statements, but insisted Pakistan would continue to support peace efforts in the region despite being made a "scapegoat".

Trump's administration last week announced the suspension of about $2 billion in security aid to nuclear-armed Pakistan - officially a U.S. ally - over accusations Islamabad is playing a double game in Afghanistan.

Col. John Thomas, U.S. Central Command spokesman, said officials are in continuous communication with Pakistan's military, including conversations between Votel and Bajwa.

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.

The phone call comes on the heels of a tweet sent out by President Trump earlier this month, criticizing his country's long-standing policy of sending security aid to Pakistan. The committee at the time said that the USA was scapegoating Pakistan for its own failure to bring peace to Afghanistan after 16 years of war. So far, Pakistan has not done so.

"We value mutual understanding of interests and concerns that we need to consider that might lead to a positive path forward", Thomas said.

The dialogue comes a week after the U.S announced its suspension of security assistance to Pakistan for failing to take "decisive action" against Taliban militants targeting USA personnel in neighboring Afghanistan. About those, Prime Minister Abbasi actually claimed that his country never even received anywhere near the nearly $1 billion that Trump said that he'll freeze, telling The Guardian that "the aid in the last five years at least has been less than $10m a year".

According to Friday's statement, Bajwa told Votel that Pakistan would not request the resumption of military aid from the U.S. He added that US s "didn't disown Trump's tweets, but they also found it tough to explain how they would translate [into] policymaking".

Bajwa responded that Pakistan is fully aware of concerns laid out by the U.S. in relation to the terrorist activities of Afghan nationals in Pakistan, and his country is already engaged in several operations against those militants, AP reports. "So when I read in the paper that aid at the level of $250m or 500 or 900 has been cut, we at least are not aware of that aid".

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