Supporting Pakistan’s fight against terrorism in US national interest: Spokesman

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WASHINGTON, July 14 (APP):Supporting Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism, violent extremism and building a more stable and democratic society was in the long-term national interests of the United States, a State Department Spokesman said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Mark Toner was replying to a question at the US Statement Department briefing regarding a recent visit by US Senator John McCain and a recent hearing by a Congress committee which demanded to stop assistance to Pakistan.

The spokesman said that Pakistan has suffered greatly from terrorism and the United States believed the country was taking steps to address terrorist violence, particularly focused on groups that threaten Pakistan’s stability.

“They (Pakistan) have made progress shutting down terrorist safe havens.

They’ve restored government control in many parts of Pakistan that have been used as terrorist safe havens for many years,” Mr. Toner said. He described these efforts as important and meaningful.

He was of the opinion that Pakistan must target all militants groups and said that the United States welcome comments by the Army Chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif he made to the law enforcement agencies to take concrete measures to deny militant groups safe haven or use of Pakistani soil for terrorist activities.

To a question, he said there was no change in the United States’ policy on Kashmir, adding that the United States want to see dialogue between India and Pakistan on how to resolve the conflict in Kashmir.

Meanwhile, a Pakistan Embassy spokesman in Washington rejected allegations made by Congressman Ted Poe in an opinion editorial published recently.

Congressman Poe also criticized Pakistan at a hearing held on Tuesday at the Capitol Hill.

The spokesman, in a letter to the US News, said that views expressed by the Congressman were based on incorrect information and speculative media reports that have been consistently proven false over a period of time.

He stated that since the killing of Osama Bin Laden, it has been established beyond doubt that he was hiding in Pakistan without information or any help from the state. “No evidence to the contrary has ever surfaced and the U.S. leadership involved in the specific operation at that time has clearly rejected any insinuation of Pakistan’s complicity.”

He said the op-ed leaves an impression that Pakistan has done nothing to fight terrorism. To the contrary, he said, Pakistan has helped the United States capture key operatives involved in the tragic 9/11 episode. These included mastermind Muhammad Khalid Sheikh and alleged 9/11 organizer Ramzi Binalshibh.

During the last two years, Pakistan has also cleared a vast swath of a territory that was previously used by many militant networks, including the Haqqani Network, he added.