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US defence secretary wants to ‘improve’ Pak-US relationship

The two sides discussed the bilateral defence relationship and regional security with reference to Afghanistan

LAHORE: Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin on Tuesday discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan amid an escalation of violence in the war-torn country.

According to a press release issued by the Pentagon, Austin and General Bajwa had a telephonic conversation to discuss ‘mutual goals of security and stability in the region’.

The call comes at a time when the Afghan Taliban are blitzing across the country, seizing six provincial capitals within days, and President Biden standing firm on a US exit with limited options appearing to be on the table to reverse the insurgents’ momentum.

The Taliban advances may appear startling in their speed but were not unexpected in Washington as the US military completes the pullout ordered by Biden by August 31.

During the call, Austin expressed ‘interest in continuing to improve the US-Pakistan relationship’ and building upon multiple shared interests in the region.

The two sides also discussed the bilateral defence relationship and regional security and stability with reference to Afghanistan.

On Aug 1, National Security Adviser (NSA) Dr Moeed Yusuf said Pakistan and the United States needed to work “more closely” amid evolving situation in Afghanistan.

“No other nation can work on shared threats in the region other than Pakistan and the US, like instability in Afghanistan. However, Afghan soil was and still is being used against Pakistan which is a serious concern and needs to be stopped,” the NSA had said in a press conference at the conclusion of his official visit to Washington.

While enunciating the security threats, he had said Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) based in Afghanistan was a threat to Pakistan and there were also groups targeting other regions in the world which was against the US interests.

Both the countries could jointly work in this domain, he had added.

A day earlier, the Taliban captured a sixth provincial Afghan capital, after ousting Afghan security forces from border towns and trade routes as US-led foreign forces pull out.

The insurgents took three provincial capitals over the weekend – Zaranj, the capital of the southern province of Nimroz, Sar-e-Pul, the capital of the northern province of the same name, and Taloqan, the capital of northeastern Takhar province.

They had already taken the northern provincial capital of Kunduz and Lashkar Gah, capital of southwestern Helmand province.

A Taliban spokesperson also warned the US on Sunday against intervening following US airstrikes to support beleaguered Afghan government forces.

Ahmed Mukhtar Naqshbandi

Media person and communication expert for over 25 years. Worked with Dow Jones News, World Bank, CNBC Pakistan, Aaj TV, ARY TV, Abbtakk TV, Business Recorder, Pakistan Observer, Online News Network, TTI Magazine and other local and world Publications.

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