Prevail upon India to work with Pakistan, Sartaj tells Kerry

ISLAMABAD: Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday said that the United States being an influential member of the international community could prevail upon India to work with Pakistan towards regional peace and economic prosperity.

Aziz, Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Security and Foreign Affairs, was addressing a press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Islamabad.

“The cancellation of foreign secretary level talks by India, followed by the recent incidents of unprovoked and indiscriminate firing on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary are a source of serious concern to Pakistan,” Aziz said.

“We hope, therefore, that US as an influential member of the international community can prevail upon India to work with Pakistan towards regional peace and economic prosperity.”

Secretary Kerry said that Prime Minister Nawaz deserved a lot of credit for his leadership in reaching out to his neighbours to develop peace and understanding. “I can’t emphasise enough that it is profoundly in the interest of Pakistan and India to move their relationship forward,” he added.

“This is the hardest time to work; it means you have to put a lot of time and effort into overcoming historical mistrust, past events and enmities that come from that history.

“We have to create a pact for sustainable peace through dialogue. We applaud the efforts to do so, we encourage both Pakistan and India to re-engage and the United States will do whatever it can to try to help in that effort,” Secretary Kerry said.

Combating terrorism

Aziz and Kerry agreed that peace and stability in Afghanistan was an essential pre-requisite for stability in Pakistan and in the region.

“Secretary Kerry welcomed in his remarks the resolute steps initiated by Pakistan to counter the menace of terrorism through the National Action Plan and related measures,” Aziz said.

Kerry said that the reality has never been clearer than on Dec 16. “The brutal murder of your children was felt by every parent and citizen in the United States. No one needed a reminder of Taliban’s disregard for human life and for freedom,” he said.

“Just as we stand with the people of France in its difficult hour, America will continue to stand with the people of Pakistan as they build a future that is free from the threat of violent extremism.

“I welcome the strong consensus forged by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan’s leaders about the importance of combating all terrorists and terror groups,” Kerry said.

Moreover, Aziz mentioned that both the countries have also agreed to expand trade.

“I urge Secretary Kerry to consider various proposals to provide greater market access to Pakistan,” he said, adding that “Pakistan is eagerly awaiting joint US-Pak business opportunity conference that is scheduled to be held in March 2015”.

AP adds: US Secretary of State John Kerry has also praised the Pakistan army operations in North Waziristan, saying the results are “significant”.

Pakistan launched a major military operation in the North Waziristan region in June to clear the area of militants.

Kerry praised the reopening of the school in Peshawar where Taliban gunmen on Dec 16 slaughtered students and teachers in one of the country’s worst terrorist attacks.

The school reopened on Monday. Kerry called it a “testament” to the resolve of the Pakistani people. The US Secretary of State later visited General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi to meet Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif.

During the meeting, they discussed bilateral defence cooperation, regional security and war on terror. Army chief apprised Kerry about success achieved in the ongoing Operation Zarb-i-Azb against extremists in the North Waziristan Agency.

Earlier, Kerry laid floral wreath at Yadgar-i-Shuda and paid tribute to sacrifices rendered by Pakistan’s armed forces and its people in the war against terrorism.



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