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The high-powered visiting American Congressional delegation spearheaded by Senator John McCain on Sunday emphasized the need for both India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue and reaffirmed that peace in Afghanistan could not be possible without Pakistan’s help.

The delegation met Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and discussed with him pressing bilateral issues such as terrorism, Pakistan’s relations with India and Afghanistan and regional peace. Other members of the US delegation were Lindsey Graham, Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Warren and David Perdue.

Tehmina Janjua, Foreign Secretary, was also present during the meeting.

Read More: Of promises, meddling and delusions: the story of Pak-USA ties

According to the Foreign Office, Senator McCain acknowledged and appreciated the contributions and sacrifices made by Pakistan in the war against terrorism. He said that continued engagement with Pakistan, referring to the nation as a close friend and ally of the US, was important.

After the meeting, Mr. McCain, Chairman Senate Armed Services Committee, while talking to the state-run PTV, said that Pakistan was a key player in the establishment of peace and stability in Afghanistan. “Peace and stability in Afghanistan is not possible without Pakistan’s help,” he stated.

He said: “Kashmir problem should be resolved in a peaceful way through negotiations.”

He went on to express American desire to end violence and conflict in Indian occupied Kashmir, adding that the US would continue its policy on the Kashmir issue without change because no progress had been made in this regard.

According to the Foreign Office, Senator McCain acknowledged and appreciated the contributions and sacrifices made by Pakistan in the war against terrorism. He said that continued engagement with Pakistan, referring to the nation as a close friend and ally of the US, was important.

The US senators also praised the economic turnaround, as manifested by investor interest and confidence in Pakistan.

They agreed with and reiterated the need for the US and Pakistan to forge closer cooperation in confronting the peace and security challenges in the region and beyond.

Mr. Aziz voiced Pakistani concerns over the gross human rights violations by Indian security forces in held Kashmir and international community’s continued silence over the reign of terror unleashed by India on innocent and unarmed Kashmiri dissidents.

“Pakistan firmly believes in the legitimacy of the Kashmir cause and the peaceful struggle of the Kashmiri people to claim the right to self-determination promised to them by the international community through the UN Security Council resolutions,” he said in this regard.

Read More: Not threatened by US-India ties:PM

This visit comes in the wake of a recent diplomatic spat between Pakistan and US over the American declaration terming Kashmiri freedom fighter Syed Salahuddin as a terrorist.

The adviser reiterated the importance of regular high-level contacts and particularly appreciated efforts of Senators McCain, Graham and Whitehouse to sustain continued engagement through regular visits to Pakistan for the promotion of understanding and cooperation between the two countries.

He highlighted the significance of the longstanding cooperation between the two countries and the need to make the partnership diverse and multidimensional. “Pakistan-US strategic partnership is critical to achieve peace and stability in the region and beyond,” he asserted

Mr. Aziz endeavored to enlighten the US delegation comprising prominent senators from both Democratic and Republican parties about Pakistan’s success in combating terrorism through Operations Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasaad and further informed them of the terrorist networks that had been dismantled, their sanctuaries eliminated under the overarching National Action Plan. “The dividend of these policies is empirically verifiable,” he added.

The foreign affairs advisor said that Pakistan remained committed to its pledge to support efforts for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and noted that Quadrilateral Coordination Group process remained a credible and effective vehicle to facilitate the reconciliation process and restore peace, stability and economic prosperity in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan looks forward to constructive engagement with the United States on all efforts and initiatives that would lead to a stable and prosperous Afghanistan,” he said.

He said Pakistan was also ready to strengthen and deepen its partnership with the US as to come up with dynamic solutions to counter the new and emerging terrorist threats, including the expanding footprint of the militant Islamic State group in the region.

This visit comes in the wake of a recent diplomatic spat between Pakistan and US over the American declaration terming Kashmiri freedom fighter Syed Salahuddin as a terrorist. This visit is being seen as an effort on the part of the US establishment to maintain and reinforce friendly relations between the two countries. Pundits are speculating that the US cannot afford to damage relations with Islamabad due to Pakistan’s integral role in supporting US efforts in Afghanistan.

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