ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and the United Stars have agreed on a new tit-for-tat cooperation as the uneasy allies struggle to revive the friendship, officials said on Wednesday.

The two countries, the officials told The Nation, had agreed to use their influence in Afghanistan and India.

“Pakistan will help in Afghanistan while the US would use its good offices in India to defuse Pak-India tension,” said one official. He added: “The cooperation from both the sides is conditional but there is no written agreement. The two sides will rely on actions.”

Yesterday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met Senator Tom Cotton, member of Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington. “They discussed bilateral relations and agreed on the need for Pakistan-US cooperation for peace in the region,” said foreign office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal.

Qureshi also met Senator Jim Risch, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on South Asia.

Separately, he held a meeting with Senator Jack Reed, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Earlier, Qureshi discussed the Pak-US ties with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They held wide-ranging talks on bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest.

The foreign minister was assisted by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States Ali Jehangir Siddiqui.

The foreign minister, who is paying an official visit to Washington at Secretary Pompeo’s invitation, said that close engagement between Pakistan and the United States had always been mutually beneficial and a factor for stability in South Asia. He stressed that, going forward, a broad-based and structured framework for dialogue would best serve the two countries’ shared interests.

Qureshi highlighted the development-focused and people-centric agenda of the government, which was contingent on peace and security in Pakistan’s neighbourhood.

The foreign minister noted that Pakistan and the United States shared a common desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region at large. He reiterated Pakistan’s support for a political settlement in Afghanistan, noting that the use of force had failed to deliver results.

The foreign minister stressed that peace in South Asia, which was a common goal of both the United States and Pakistan, would remain elusive until all disputes, including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, are resolved.

Pompeo said the United States looked forward to working with the new Government of Pakistan in implementing its reform agenda. He appreciated Pakistan’s support for political reconciliation in Afghanistan and its efforts for peace in the neighbourhood.

“Both the sides agreed that the time is ripe for the Afghan Taliban to avail the opportunity for a political settlement by seizing the opportunity for dialogue. The two leaders agreed to remain engaged with a view to achieving their shared bilateral and regional objectives,” said a foreign ministry statement.

The officials said Pakistan had made it clear to the US that unless India stops aggression along the Line of Control Islamabad would not be able to focus on Afghanistan.

“In principle, the two sides have agreed to help each other. The two countries believe that they need each other. Washington wants a more active role by Pakistan on Afghanistan,” said an official.

 

POMPEO CALLS ON TALIBAN TO NEGOTIATE

 

AFP adds: Secretary of State Pompeo pressed Afghanistan’s Taliban to come to the table to end the long-running war as he called on Pakistan to play a supportive role, the State Department said Wednesday.

Pompeo met in Washington with Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in the latest US outreach to the government of new Prime Minister Imran Khan, a longtime advocate of a negotiated settlement with insurgents.

The top US diplomat “emphasised the important role Pakistan could play in bringing about a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Pompeo “agreed that there was momentum to advance the Afghan peace process, and that the Afghan Taliban should seize the opportunity for dialogue,” Nauert said of the meeting.

President Donald Trump has doubled down on the war effort in Afghanistan despite his past calls to end the longest-ever US war. But diplomatic efforts have also intensified, with US officials meeting in July in Qatar with representatives of the Taliban, whose hardline regime was overthrown in a US-led operation in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The State Department notably did not say whether Pompeo addressed Pakistan’s position on extremism.

In August, Pompeo congratulated Imran Khan in a telephone call on taking office, with the State Department saying that he asked Islamabad to “take decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan.”

Pakistan denied the account, saying that the issue never came up.

The United States has pressed for years for Pakistan to crack down on the Taliban and Haqqani network.

Trump has suspended military assistance worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan, accusing the country of duplicity.