Washington:The United States shares a common interest with Pakistan in not allowing safe havens for militants along its border with Afghanistan, the Pentagon has said.
Speaking to reporters during an off-camera gaggle on Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the US has had discussions with Pakistan about the ways in which it can be helpful in terms of helping secure the border and contribute to a more stable and secure future for Afghanistan.
Taliban militants have seized dozens of districts and major border crossings in recent weeks and are now thought to control about a third of Afghanistan, ahead of the withdrawal of US and Western troops from the country by September 11.
Under a deal with the Taliban, the US and its NATO allies agreed to withdraw all troops in return for a commitment by the militants that they would prevent extremist groups from operating in areas they control.
“Our message to the Pakistanis has remained consistent that we recognise we have shared interests here, common interests in not allowing for those safe havens, and we continue to talk to the Pakistanis about ways that, collectively, all of us can see an improvement there,” Kirby said.
“But as for what the Pakistanis are doing or are not doing and operationally, that’s something that they should speak to, not us,” he said when asked if the Pentagon has seen any evidence that the Pakistani Air Force has helped Taliban in gaining ground, especially in Kandahar province.
Kirby said, “We recognise that Pakistan has a stake in a stable, secure Afghanistan, the long border there, and we’ve long recognised that the border between those two countries has been used in the past as a safe haven for some of these militants groups, including the Taliban, and that the Pakistani people themselves have fallen victim to militant attacks that have emanated from that border region.”
America, he asserted, has been very candid and forthcoming about the challenges along that border.
“The Pakistani people, they understand the threat that they’re under, too, and the need to not allow for there to be a safe haven (for militants) there,” he added.
Kirby said, “Our mission in Afghanistan is to complete this drawdown and to get to a point where our force presence is designed to protect our diplomats and our diplomatic mission.”
The US has already pulled back the majority of its forces. PTI