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US, Pakistan have much to gain by cooperation: FM

WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Thursday said Pakistan and the United States together had degraded al-Qaeda in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and need to continue work together and cooperate in defeating the newer and more toxic form of terrorism.

In his opening remarks at a seminar organized by the Washington-based United States Institute of Peace, the minister also emphasized that both the United States and Pakistan had much to gain by working together, including achieving a durable peace in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan considers itself a longstanding friend of the United States,” the minister said and added that friends need to revitalize and refresh their friendship from time to time.

“A partnership that is anchored in mutual respect, pursuit of common interest and understanding of each other’s concerns has served us both,” he said.

However, the minister said, lately, there had been a tendency to place Pakistan’s counterterrorism credentials under focus. “The truth is that Pakistan is not just fighting but also winning against terrorism,” the minister added.

Kh. Asif said four years ago, Pakistan had one the highest incidence of terrorism anywhere in the world, but Pakistan responded to this tide of terrorism by building a strategic national consensus on a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy.

This national consensus, he added, helped mobilized nearly 200,000 troops against the forces of terrorism which dealt a decisive blow to all terrorist networks that had taken advantage of the remote geography of the treacherous border with Afghanistan.

“Our troops have bravely soldiered in terrain that has deceived visitors for centuries. What is often forgotten is that Pakistan has been conducting series of major counter-terrorism operations for over a decade and has progressively secured all territory on its side of the border,” he mentioned.

He said as a result of these successful operations Pakistan had seen the most significant decline in the number of terrorist attacks anywhere in the world and the civilian deaths due to terrorism had declined considerably since 2013.