Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, acknowledged that the issue of cross-border terrorism poses a challenge to his country as well as Afghanistan.
Mr. Sharif’s acknowledgement on this issue came during his meeting with Mr. Kerry in New York on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, wherein the two leaders discussed bilateral relationship, the peace process in Afghanistan and Mr. Sharif’s upcoming Washington trip to meet President Barack Obama.
“We expressed our concern about the existence of effective safe havens on both sides of the border and stressed that this, as I said, was a mutual problem. The Prime Minister acknowledged that this was a problem, a challenge, and a threat to Pakistani security,” a senior State Department official told reporters after the meeting.
Responding to questions, the official said Mr. Sharif “acknowledged” the problem of cross-border militancy was a threat to both societies.
“They are in a process at this point of seeking negotiations with the leading militant group that is targeting Pakistan, but they also are looking at alternatives, including more vigorous police and military action, should those negotiations fail,” the official said.
“And those actions wouldn’t necessarily be limited exclusively to TTP (Pakistani Taliban), particularly since the TTP operates in the same areas as many of these militant groups that target externally,” the official said.
The weekend meeting between Mr. Sharif and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York did not crop up during the talks.
“Certainly we’ve discussed it. I mean, I’ve met with both the Indian and Pakistani sides over the last few days, and we’re very supportive of this effort at rapprochement. But I don’t know that it specifically came up today,” he said.
Soon after the meeting the White House announced that Mr. Obama would meet Mr. Sharif on October 23.
“I think its going to be an important visit. It’s going to be a very full agenda. We’ve already started to talk about a roadmap between now and then to work on the agenda...” the official said.
“Prime Minister Sharif came to office after some historic elections. And in the short intervening period, he’s made it fairly clear that he’s committed to improving relations not only with his neighbours, but as well, and importantly, with the United States,” the official said.
“Its going to be a visit focused on our areas of mutual interests or mutual goals of regional stability, improved relations across South Asia, deepening our partnership of mutual cooperation on counterterrorism, strategic stability.
“Economic growth inside Pakistan clearly will be on their minds and their agenda. We also need to have and will continue to have some frank discussions about some serious challenges and serious concerns that we continue to face,” the official said.