Pakistan intends to facilitate withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan: FO

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Thursday that Pakistan intends to facilitate the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as it desires a smooth process in this regard.

The United States plans to withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan in 2014. However, in a statement in Washington on Tuesday, the US Assistant Secretary of South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal said that the US engagement with the Pak-Afghan region is an enduring one and it will not leave this region completely after 2014.

On the other hand, the US is urging Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement on the future of US military presence in the war-torn country. Although the Afghan Loya Jirga endorsed the security pact last month, but in closing remarks Karzai suggested he might not sign it until after national elections scheduled for April.

Karzai has also said that no ministers can sign a security pact with the US unless key demands are met. His refusal to sign the proposed pact has soured relations between the two allied nations and on Monday Afghan officials blamed US and coalition forces of deliberately withholding fuel supplies from Afghan army and police units.

In his weekly media briefing in Islamabad on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said that Pakistan has not changed its stance over US drone strikes and continues to oppose these as these violate its sovereignty and are counterproductive.

The spokesman said that Pakistan has raised the issue of drone attacks at all international forums including the United Nations. He said that Prime Minister’s advisor on foreign affairs and national security Sartaj Aziz also raised the issue with US special envoy during his recent visit to Islamabad.

Chaudhry said that the United States has suspended NATO supplies through Torkham to protect lives of the container drivers.

The FO spokesman further said that there is no proposal under consideration to open Talban office in Pakistan for dialogue with the United States; however‚ Pakistan is facilitating Afghan reconciliation process.