Pentagon for joint US-Afghan platform to combat terrorism

ANI | Updated: Dec 18, 2017 10:41 IST

Washington D.C. [United States], Dec.18 (ANI): The Pentagon has underlined the need for a joint US-Afghan platform to combat over 20 militant groups active in the region.

Submitting its first report on Afghanistan since August 21 to the U.S. Congress, when President Donald Trump announced his new South Asia strategy, the Petagon has emphasized the need for a "fundamental change" in the way Pakistan deals with the alleged terrorist safe havens on its territory.

According to the Dawn, it said that United States is ready to take unilateral steps in 'areas of divergence' with Pakistan, while at the same time expanding cooperation between the two countries where bilateral interests converge.

The report was released to the media over the weekend.

The Pentagon also informed the lawmakers that the new US strategy calls for a whole-of-government, regional approach to isolate the Taliban from "sources of external support" and to mitigate any malign influence from outside actors.

"Our military-to-military relationship with Pakistan remains critical to the success of our mutual interests in the region. To move forward, we must see fundamental changes in the way Pakistan deals with terrorist safe-havens in its territory," the report said.

The Pentagon has said that it will use a range of tools to expand our cooperation with Pakistan in areas where our interests converge and to take unilateral steps in areas of divergence".

The report noted that more than 20 terrorist or insurgent groups were still active in Afghanistan and Pakistan and their existence "requires an Afghan-supported US platform in the region to monitor, contain, and respond to these threats".

The report said that the Pak-Afghan border region remained a sanctuary for groups like Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, ISIS-K and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

"Sanctuary on the Pakistani side and presence on the Afghan side remain security challenges for both countries and pose a threat to regional security and stability," the report added.

The Pentagon said that recent Pakistani military operations had disrupted some militant sanctuaries, certain extremist groups - such as the Taliban and the Haqqani network - "retain freedom of movement in Pakistan".

"The United States continues to convey to all levels of Pakistani leadership the importance of taking action against all terrorist and extremist groups," the report added.

The report acknowledged that the hard-won US gains in Afghanistan were fragile, but worth defending and the United States had aligned its diplomatic, military, and economic resources to seek a negotiated settlement to this 17-year-old war.

"We have recommitted to helping the Afghan government and people navigate through these challenges with a new approach that leverages additional support from allies, partners, and regional actors," it said.

"As long as the Afghan government continues to show real progress and make real reforms, we will continue to support them as our strategic partners in the fight against international terrorism," the report said.

The Pentagon also stressed the need for making the Taliban realise that they cannot win on the battlefield. "

"They must know that their only path to peace and political legitimacy is through a negotiated settlement with the Afghan government," the report added. (Ani with inputs)