WASHINGTON: The US security assistance to Pakistan contributes to counter-terrorism operations, a State Department spokesman said on Thursday, adding that the country was an important partner in the region in achieving a stable and secure Afghanistan.
At a regular press briefing at the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner said counter-terrorism operations by Pakistan reduce the ability of militants to use Pakistani territory to carry out terrorist attacks and as a base of support for insurgency in Afghanistan.
“So we believe these operations are in the interests of both Pakistan and the United States and in the interests of the region more broadly,” he said.
The spokesman refused to confirm a report published in a US newspaper about a letter by a US senator regarding F-16 sales to Pakistan, and said that the State Department did not comment on proposed arms sales, transfer or even preliminary consultations with the Capitol Hill, prior to any formal congressional notification.
“We are committed to working with Congress to deliver security assistance to our partners and our allies that we believe furthers U.S. foreign policy interests by building the capacity to meet shared security challenges,” he said.
To a question, he said that no country in the region has been more touched by terrorism than Pakistan. “We believe it’s in our vital national security interests to support Pakistan in carrying out its efforts to destroy these terrorist networks, and we believe it’s an important partner in the region in achieving a stable and secure Afghanistan.”
He welcomed Pakistan’s efforts to support Afghan-led reconciliation talks, referring to the Heart of Asia ministerial recently held in Islamabad and two of the first three meetings of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group which is discussing the reconciliation efforts with Taliban.
The spokesman said that Pakistan has carried out multiple operations against terrorist networks that were operating in the country. “We believe that destroying, eliminating those networks is in our national security interests, as well as the security interests of the region,” he added.