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US says seeing ‘positive indicators’ from Pakistan on terrorism

WASHINGTON: The US military is seeing some “positive indicators” from Pakistan showing it is becoming more responsive to US concerns about alleged militant safe havens in the country but Islamabad has yet to make a strategic shift, a top US general said on Tuesday.

“We are now beginning to see very positive indicators … that they are moving in the right direction,” said US Army General Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, citing unspecified Pakistani actions “on the ground.”

“It does not yet equal the decisive action that we would like to see them take in terms of a strategic shift, but they are positive indicators,” Votel told a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ties between the allies strained further recently when Washington persuaded member states of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to include Pakistan on the watch-list of nations with inadequate terrorist financing or money laundering controls.

Of late, senior director for South and Central Asia  at the NSC of US Lisa Curtis arrived in Islamabad and held meetings with Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua in an effort to improve relations.

Relations between the two non-Nato allies began to plummet after the announcement of the Trump administration’s strategy for South Asia and Afghanistan last year.

The extensive bilateral talks began afterwards to find a common ground, but the National Security Strategy document unveiled by the US, the Trump’s New Year tweet, the suspension of military aid and the US move to grey list Pakistan left little doubt that the talks have failed to fix the strains.

Later, the military leadership of both countries engaged in the dialogue. In January, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa received two telephone calls from Commander US Central Command General Joseph Votel and one from a US Senator over the week to discuss Pak-US security cooperation post the President Trump tweet.

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