ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said as longstanding partners and strategic allies, a sustained and strong Pak-US partnership was essential to deal with various challenges confronting the region and beyond.
He was talking to a five-member US Senate delegation led by Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee that called on him at the Prime Minister’s House here.
Nawaz had an extensive discussion with the visiting members from the Capitol Hill on regional as well international issues of mutual interest of the two counties. He urged the international community, especially the United States, to play role for bringing the miseries of the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) to an end.
He expressed serious concern over the gross human rights violations and brutal repression on the unarmed Kashmiris. He underscored the legitimacy of the Kashmir cause and urged the world community, especially the United States, to play role in ending the sufferings of the Kashmiri people.
The delegation comprised Senator John McCain, senators Lindsey Graham (Republican), Elizabeth Warren (Democrat), Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat) and David Perdue (Republican).
The prime minister was assisted by Minister for Finance Senator Ishaq Dar, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, National Security Adviser (NSA) Lieutenant General Nasser Khan Janjua, Secretary to the Prime Minister (SPM) Fawad Hasan Fawad, Foreign Secretary Ms. Tehmina Janjua and other senior officials.
Welcoming the bipartisan US Senate delegation, the prime minister apprised the delegation of his government’s efforts over the last four years to combat terrorism and that its success could be measured by the markedly improved security situation in Pakistan.
He also highlighted the economic turnaround and underscored his government’s commitment to good neighbourly relations and highlighted various initiatives to improve relations with Afghanistan and India.
On Afghanistan, the prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to support all efforts aimed at lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. He said concerted efforts were needed for a politically negotiated settlement under an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process.
He reminded the guests of various initiatives Pakistan has taken for improvement of ties with Afghanistan. The prime minister called a strong partnership between the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan a prerequisite for achieving sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
In this regard, he also stressed the importance of Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) mechanism to facilitate Afghan reconciliation. With reference to the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, the prime minister expressed serious concern over the gross human rights violations and brutal repression on unarmed Kashmiris.
He underscored the legitimacy of Kashmir cause and urged the world community, especially the United States, to play its role in ending the sufferings of the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Thanking the prime minister, Senator McCain agreed that continued close cooperation between the US and Pakistan was essential for securing peace and stability in the region. He said the US attached importance to its relations with Pakistan, which remained a close friend and ally.
The senators appreciated the contributions and sacrifices made by Pakistan and the successes achieved in the fight against terrorism. The senators also praised the economic turnaround in Pakistan and stressed the importance of intensifying mutually beneficial trade and investment cooperation.
The US delegation also met Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javaid Bajwa. The members of the US Congress also had a formal meeting with senior officials in the Foreign Office.
The US senators also visited South Waziristan accompanied by the Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. A statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the delegation was briefed about the Pak-Afghan border security, including recent measures for its improvement through fencing and enhanced surveillance.
The delegation was also provided information about socio-economic development efforts in the tribal region. The delegation included Lindsay Graham, Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Warren and David Perdue.
According to the statement, the delegation was flown over South Waziristan to have an aerial view of the border area, newly constructed forts and posts and development work including schools, colleges, hospitals, sports stadium, water supply schemes and road infrastructure.
The statement said the delegation acknowledged the efforts and sacrifices of the local people and security forces for bringing peace to the area. It added that the senators reiterated the importance of institutionalized Pak-Afghan border security coordination and cooperation mechanism.
The delegation was scheduled to visit the Line of Control in Azad Kashmir but the visit couldn't be undertaken due to bad weather. The statement said the Army chief thanked the senators for the visit and support in the socio-economic uplift of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). Earlier, upon arrival at Wana, the delegation was received by Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Nazir Ahmad Butt and General Officer Commanding Wana.
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