Washington -  Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday said Pakistan seeks to reset its relationship with the United States. “There seems to be a little bit of a stalemate in the last couple of years,” Dar pointed out in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Dar, who spoke to the newspaper ahead of his meeting with National Security Adviser Lt-Gen HR McMaster, said, “We need to remove any ambiguities that we have between each other as friends.”

The WSJ, noting that the Pak-US relationship was “complicated”, reported that Washington still sees Islamabad as critical to its efforts in Afghanistan as the Trump administration intensifies its attacks on the militant Islamic State (IS) group and the Taliban.

In a move signalling a shift in US policy in the region under US President Donald Trump, the American military earlier this month dropped one of its largest non-nuclear bombs on an IS complex in eastern Afghanistan.

The Trump administration is reviewing its policy toward Pakistan, the report said, citing an unnamed White House official.  Ishaq Dar, however, questioned the effectiveness of the US strategy.\ “Let’s face it, there hasn’t been great success in the operations in Afghanistan in the last decade-plus since 9/11,” he said.

“You can’t find each one of the Taliban and kill them and then restart. It will take too long, maybe ages,” he said.

Instead, Pakistan believes an ‘Afghan-owned, Afghan-led’ political solution is probably the ultimate solution, the finance minister said. “Obviously we have to listen to the new side, the new administration, to see what their thoughts are,” he said.

“I’m sure the new administration will be looking into this. I think we need to sit together and see where the flaws are.”

Dar said the PML-N government had escalated military operations intended to clear out terror networks and fighters in the tribal areas, suffering a series of deadly terror attacks across the country.

Besides expanding those operations, the government is bolstering its border security, including a fencing at critical crossing points, he said. “We are very keen to contribute whichever way we can to support this peace effort,” he said, referring to the US.

Dar said Pakistan also wants the Trump administration to help resolve the decades-old Kashmir dispute with India.

DAR, MCMASTER VOW TO CONTINUE WORKING FOR PEACE, STABILITY

Describing regional peace and stability as a mutual goal, Pakistan and the United States have agreed to continue to work to this end during a meeting between US National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. McMaster and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The Minister held a detailed meeting with the NSA at the White House on Tuesday as the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister, and was assisted by the Pakistan Ambassador to the US Aizaz Chaudhry. The Finance Minister was in Washington to attend the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the IMF and also held meetings with senior US officials from the State Department and the Treasury Department.

During the meeting with Gen. McMaster, the two sides emphasised the need to have continued engagement on issues of mutual interest.

The Finance Minister highlighted the economic reforms agenda of the Prime Minister which led to the macro-economic stabilisation and earned appreciation by the international financial institutions.

Updating the NSA on Pakistan’s security situation, the Finance Minister stressed that Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism from its soil was manifested by the successful conclusion of the operation Zarb-e-Azb which was now being followed by a nationwide combing operation Rad-ul-Fisad.

As a result of these efforts, the incidents of terrorism in Pakistan had significantly reduced, he added.

The US side noted Pakistan’s sacrifices in war against terrorism and its support to strengthen Pakistan’s counter-terrorism capabilities.

Gen. McMaster also briefed the Finance Minister about his recent trip to the region which was aimed to assess the ground situation for the on-going US policy review for Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister met a group of Pakistani journalists at the end of his visit to Washington and briefed them about his meetings with the US officials and the World Bank and IMF leaders.

The Minister said after completing a successful programme with the IMF, Pakistan will not enter to any more programme with the international lending agency as the country’s economy was now stable and moving upward. He said that Pakistan’s macroeconomic stability achieved through sustained reforms have been duly acknowledged by the IMF and the World Bank.

The economy is now back on the growth path and expected to post five per cent growth in the year ending June 30, he added.

The Minister stated that after having achieved the financial and economic stability, the government was now focusing on the social sectors through innovative measures, including Pakistan Development Fund and Pakistan Infrastructure Bank to maintain the higher growth trajectory.