This is US General Joseph Votel's fourth visit to Islamabad (File Photo)
In a blunt message to Pakistan, a top US general has told the country's military leadership that Islamabad must prevent terrorists from operating within its soil and across its borders to bring in security and stability in the region.
US Central Command (Centcom) Commander General Joseph Votel, who was in Islamabad on a two-day visit, also emphasised the importance of improved Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, and the need for strengthened border security, including measures to coordinate military operations along both sides of the border, according to a statement from the US Embassy.
During his visit, Votel met senior Pakistani military commanders including Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Hayat and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Naveed Mukhtar.
The US Centcom Commander's visit, his fourth to Islamabad, is believed to be a preparatory visit for the upcoming trip of US Defence Secretary James Mattis, who is likely to visit to Pakistan next month.
Pakistan and the US have had a series of meetings to bridge their differences since President Donald Trump's Fort Myer speech on the new US policy for South Asia and Afghanistan in which he criticised Pakistan for showing insincerity in the fight against terrorism despite getting billions of dollars in assistance from America.
Trump's harsh language had aggravated the already strained bilateral relations.
Votel stressed the Donald Trump Administration's message that Pakistan must prevent all terrorists from operating within and across its borders, the Embassy statement said here.
"Votel underscored the vital role Pakistan can play in facilitating a peace process in Afghanistan and in bringing stability and security to the region," it said.
It was essentially the reiteration of the demand for action against the alleged "safe havens", Dawn reported today.
During his meeting, General Bajwa told General Votel that Pakistan's committed efforts for peace in Afghanistan were not being reciprocated. He pointed towards the latest cross-border attack on a Pakistani post in Bajaur in which two soldiers were killed.
Following the attack, the military had called for "more efforts" by all stakeholders in Afghanistan, both the NATO's Resolute Support Mission and the Afghan security forces, for elimination of terrorist sanctuaries in Afghanistan and effective border security.
Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal, speaking at the weekly media briefing, said yesterday that efforts were continuing "to bridge the gap between the perceptions of the two countries in the wake of President Trump's South Asia and Afghanistan policy, and to arrive at a consensus on moving forward and exploring avenues of cooperation between both sides".
Noting that Pakistan was "actively engaged" in dialogue with the US at all levels, he said, "he believes that dialogue is the best way forward to enhance cooperation between the two sides."