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Time to back PM Modi on trying to maintain peace: US Secretary Jim Mattis to Pakistan

USA has also asked Pakistan's help in bringing Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said that Pakistan should support peace initiatives of PM Modi and the United Nations to maintain peace in south-east Asia.

“It’s time for everyone to get on board, support the United Nations; support Prime Minister Modi, President Ghani and all those who are trying to maintain peace and make for a better world here,” Jim Mattis was quoted by reports.

This statement came as a response to a question regarding a letter the US has written to Pakistan soliciting its support for negotiating talks with the Afghan Taliban. He addressed reporters at the Pentagon yesterday as he welcomed Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for talks.

Nirmala Sitharaman is visiting the USA from Dec 2 to 7 on an official visit. She was accorded the Armed Forces Enhanced Honours Cordon welcome by US Sectary Jim Mattis.

The USA wants to put an end to conflicts between America backed Afghan forces and Taliban, that has escalated post 9/11. Foreign Ministry of Pakistan, without disclosing the contents of the letter, had said that USA’s participation in negotiations with the Taliban is in tandem with Pakistan’s stand of bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The letter by the USA has come days before Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad’s visit to Islamabad.

This letter showcase USA’s urgency in dealing with the Taliban, who are against USA’s presence in Afghanistan. The USA still has 15,000 troops stationed there. Zalmay in past has conducted peace negotiations with the Taliban, without any remarkable breakthrough. But, this time the USA hopes to get Pakistan’s backing on the negotiation table.

The USA and Pakistan share a conflicting relationship, especially regarding the Taliban menace. President Trump has always alleged that Pakistan acts as a voluntary host for Taliban insurgents and have turned a blind eye towards the Haqqani network, active on Pakistan and Afghanistan’s shared borders. Citing these reasons, last year the USA had suspended military aids to Pakistan.

Recently too, friction between two nations had led Pentagon to severe monetary help of $1.66 billion in security assistance to Pakistan. The decision had come days after Trump’s statements slamming Pakistan of not doing ‘a damn thing’ for the US, alleging that its government had helped Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden to hide near its garrison city of Abbottabad. The USA also alleges that Pakistan plays a double role while dealing with the Afghan Taliban.

India also on the international forum of UN have time-and-again reiterated that Pakistan not only harbours terrorists but also sponsors them to attack other countries. India has always maintained the stand of ‘terror and talks can’t go hand-in-hand.’ India has not engaged with Pakistan since the cancellation of proposed talks between India MEA Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan foreign minister at the sidelines of the UNGA meeting in September in the United States.

“The United States and India, in Prime Minister Modi’s work, have overcome hesitations of history, carrying forward the legacy of friendship and making clear there is no contradiction between strategic autonomy and strategic partnership,” Mattis said at the event.

Prime Minister Modi and President Trump had recently met on the occasion of G20 In Argentina.

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