ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of Defence James Mattis held a meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa here on Monday, wherein the latter highlighted Pakistan’s concerns emanating from Indian use of Afghan soil, said a statement released from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
General Bajwa said that Pakistan has done much more than its due share despite capacity constraints, but shall remain committed for peace as a responsible member of the international community.
The army chief reiterated Pakistan’s support for peace and stability in the region, and the necessity and right of Afghan refugees for a respectable and early repatriation.
He also discussed the existence of terrorist safe havens across the border in Afghanistan with the US defence secretary.
Mattis, on the occasion, assured the army chief that the US is ready to play its role in addressing Pakistan’s legitimate concerns, saying he wanted to find common ground rather than make demands.
General Bajwa appreciated the visiting dignitary’s understanding of the underlying issues and said Pakistan does not require anything from the US but understanding.
However, the Secretary Mattis expressed concern that some elements continue to use Pakistani territory to further their terrorist agenda in Afghanistan.
“We have eliminated safe havens from Pakistan’s soil but are prepared to look into the possibility of miscreants exploiting Pakistan’s hospitality to the Afghan refugees to the detriment of our Afghan brothers,” the ISPR quoted the army chief as saying.
General Bajwa and Secretary Mattis agreed to work towards specific and sustained actions on each other’s concerns, added ISPR.
The visiting US dignitary also expressed his respect for the Pakistan armed forces and the operations conducted against terrorists.
The meeting was focused on regional security with particular emphasis on Afghanistan as well as other matters of mutual interest.
COAS Bajwa acknowledged the history of US engagements with Pakistan, especially the ongoing efforts for continuing the positivity for peace in the region.
Earlier, in a statement released by the US Embassy, Mattis said Pakistan and US can jointly play an important role in the Afghan peace process.
“Pakistan and the United States, together, can play an important role to establish peace in Afghanistan,” Mattis said according to a press note issued by the US embassy.
The US Secretary of defence further said that Pakistan should double its efforts against the war on terrorism.
Mattis’ earlier meeting on arrival
The top brass of the civil and military leadership, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, met the US dignitaries.
Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant-General Naveed Mukhtar also met with the US delegation, the press note said.
In his meeting with PM Abbasi earlier today, Mattis said that the US wants to take its longstanding ties forward with Pakistan and a common way needs to be found for continuous ties with Pakistan.
Lauding the professional capabilities of Pakistan Army, the US defence secretary said he was aware of the sacrifices rendered by the Army and he values the capability of the force.
James Mattis arrived at the Nur Khan Airbase on Monday afternoon where he was received by officials from the defence and foreign ministries.
Prior to arriving in Pakistan, Mattis said he intends to “work hard on finding the common ground” and “work together” with Pakistan — where he arrives today for his first visit since taking over the charge of the Pentagon.
The US secretary of defence’s trip aims “to re-affirm the enduring US commitment to partnerships” in the region, according to a press release by the US Department of Defense.
Mattis began his crucial five-day tour of the Middle East — including Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait — and Islamabad on Friday.