US tells Pakistan: Do more to wipe out terrorism

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, left, with US Vice President Mike Pence in New York. (Photo courtesy the Prime Minister's Office)
Updated 19 March 2018
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US tells Pakistan: Do more to wipe out terrorism

ISLAMABAD: US Vice President Mike Pence wants Pakistan to work more closely with Washington to defeat terrorism on its soil.
A White House statement said Pence reiterated President Donald Trump’s “request that the Government of Pakistan must do more to address the continued presence of the Taliban, Haqqani Network, and other terrorist groups operating in their country.”
But the statement did not share any details about the nature of talks and meetings.
PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who is on a private visit to the US, met Pence on Saturday. But his office has not shared anything, so far, with the media about his visit or the meeting.
On Thursday Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said that active negotiations are in progress between Pakistan and the US. “It is a difficult balancing act and both sides have conveyed their reservations and differences on the new US strategy to each other.”We are actively seeking to find common ground, as is manifested in continued engagement at all levels between Pakistan and the US.”
Former Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir believes that this particular White House statement reflects a partial view.
“Pakistan and US interests converge on both peace in Afghanistan and countering terror. Both sides need to talk more and cooperate more. There have been positive developments in this regard,” he told Arab News.
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, professor of politics and international relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, believes this reflects the significance of Pakistan’s role in the US strategy for culmination of the war in Afghanistan. “Mike Pence asked Prime Minister Abbasi to do more. Doing more means more cooperation.”
Qamar Cheema, a political analyst, told Arab News that the mistrust between Pakistan and the US is over the alleged presence of the Haqqani Network.
“The US has been asking Pakistan to do more on the Haqqani Network, whereas it also accepts that Pakistan has taken certain measures which are appreciable. If the trust deficit between both countries will be bridged, that will be a win-win situation for both,” Cheema said.
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua visited Washington on March 7-8, where she met senior US officials including US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan at the State Department and Deputy National Security Adviser Dr. Nadia Schadlow, at the White House.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Janjua had in-depth discussions with South Asia experts at the US Institute of Peace.
“She reaffirmed Pakistan’s constructive approach to work together with the US for regional peace and stability,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement after Janjua’s visit.
The US and Afghanistan have been asking Pakistan to move against the Haqqani Network, which the US says operates from Pakistan. However, Islamabad maintains that Pakistani forces have eliminated the infrastructure of militants and acted indiscriminately against all terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network.


Al-Shabaab captures strategic town in Somalia’s Puntland

Displaced Somali children and teenagers attend a class to learn alphabets and numbers at a makeshift school at the Badbado IDP camp in Mogadishu. (AFP)
Updated 50 min 44 sec ago
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Al-Shabaab captures strategic town in Somalia’s Puntland

  • Puntland forces ran away as we advanced to the town because they know we had taught them tough lessons before
  • Somalia has been gripped by violence and lawlessness since the toppling of Mohamed Siad Barre in the early 1990s

BOSASO: Somalia’s militant group Al-Shabaab has captured a small but strategic town 100 km (60 miles) south of Bosaso city in the semi-autonomous Puntland region, a military officer, Al-Shabaab and residents said on Friday.
Residents in Af Urur told Reuters that the town is now controlled by Al-Shabaab.
“When we woke up this morning, we saw many Al- Shabaab fighters controlling the town. The (Puntland military) forces had left yesterday,” Ahmed Nur told Reuters from Af Urur by phone on Friday.
Al-Shabaab wants to topple Somalia’s Western-backed central government, expel the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force AMISOM and establish a government based on its own strict interpretation of the Shariah.
Af Urur’s position is important because the main road that links the cities of Garowe, Bosaso and Mogadishu passes nearby.
Puntland forces and Al-Shabaab have fought in the town, which has ditch defenses, several times in the past.
Mohamed Abdi, a Puntland military officer, told Reuters Al-Shabaab had taken Af Urur town by Friday morning, adding without elaborating that only a few Puntland military forces had been in the town on Thursday evening. “We were supposed to be replaced by other forces,” Abdi said. “We shall recapture the town from Al-Shabaab.”
Al-Shabaab confirmed that they had control of the town.
“Puntland forces ran away as we advanced to the town because they know we had taught them tough lessons before,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters on Friday. “We now peacefully control Af Urur town.”
Somalia has been gripped by violence and lawlessness since the toppling of Mohamed Siad Barre in the early 1990s.
Puntland is bordered by Somaliland to its west, the Gulf of Aden in the north, the Guardafui Channel in the east, the central Galmudug region in the south and Ethiopia in the southwest.
It has a long coastline, which is abundant with fish and other natural marine resources. Puntland has the lowest rate of poverty in Somalia.