Islamabad, June 10 (IANS) Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif on Friday urged the visiting American military officials and diplomats to target Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan leaders who now operate from the Afghan side of the border, the military’s media wing said.
General John Nicholson, Commander of Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, and Ambassador Richard Olson, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, met Raheel Sharif amid tension between the two countries over the recent US drone strike in Balochistan which killed Taliban chief Mullaha Akhtar Mansoor.
The US officials arrived in Islamabad after a series of harsh statements by the Pakistani leaders over the May 21 drone attack, which came at a time when efforts were underway to start peace negotiations in Afghanistan.
“Expressing his serious concern on the US drone strike in Balochistan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, the (army) chief highlighted as to how it had impacted the mutual trust and respect,” an Inter-Services Public Relations statement said after the meeting.
The army chief underlined that the US action was counter-productive in consolidating the gains of Pakistan military operation in the tribal regions.
“All efforts for durable peace in the region have to be synergised with shared commitment and responsibility in order to make them successful,” the statement quoted Raheel as telling the American leaders.
He raised the demand for targeting the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its chief Mullah Fazlullah in their bases in Afghanistan and reiterated Pakistan’s resolve not to allow hostile intelligence agencies’ efforts, especially “(Indian) RAW and (Afghan) NDS, of fomenting terrorism”.
Pakistani security officials say that almost all TTP leaders and fighters have fled to Afghanistan after a series of military operations in the tribal regions.
The regional security situation, with particular reference to border management with Afghanistan, and peace and stability in Afghanistan in the post-May 21 US drone strike environment came under discussion, the military said.
The army chief told the US officials that the operation in the tribal regions code-named “Zarb-e-Azb” was launched against terrorists of all hues and sanctuaries of terrorists have been dismantled without discrimination.
“All stakeholders need to understand Pakistan’s challenges with regard to porous border, inter-tribal linkages and decades-old presence of over 3 million refugees. Blaming Pakistan for instability in Afghanistan is unfortunate,” Raheel said.