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In a trilateral meeting held on Friday, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States agreed to act against Daesh through joint efforts in their respective areas of operations (AOR).

“A Two Star level security meeting among delegates from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Resolute Support Mission was held at General Headquarters Rawalpindi. The delegations were led by Afghan DGMO Major General Habib Hesari and Resolute Support Mission’s Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) Major General Christopher Haas.

Pakistan was represented by DGMO Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza. During the trilateral meeting, the senior delegates stressed upon the need to defeat Daesh through complementary efforts in respective areas of operations,” stated the ISPR press release

“Both sides agreed to enhance the frequency of bilateral interactions at multiple tiers through different command and staff channels to foster an environment of mutual respect, trust, cordiality, and cooperation,” the release added.

During the trilateral meeting, the senior delegates stressed upon the need to defeat Daesh through complementary efforts in respective areas of operations,” stated the ISPR press release

The meeting was tipped as important following the events that occurred lately. A suicide attack which took place on Friday on the Senate Deputy Chairman, Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri convey was claimed by Daesh. Though Pakistan does not consider Daesh as the prime security threat but such instances may compel security planners to change their thinking.

It must be stressed that the US is well and truly on the surge against IS in Afghanistan as evidenced by the employment of the GBU-43 bomb last month in Nangarhar Afghanistan and now the talk of an increase in US military boots on ground also. The decision to launch a concerted effort against Daesh comes a day after the US intelligence Community once again raised eyebrows on Pakistan’s anti-terrorism drive.

In his statement to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Director National Intelligence, Daniel Coats talked about the threat to Afghanistan, India and the US from Pakistani groups.

Read more: Pakistan-based Terror Groups will Target India and Afghanistan, warns US spymaster

The resolve to jointly combat the menace of terrorism is a good harbinger and certainly, should be taken in good spirit. The key requirement for putting up a united front is to end mistrust. As of now the trio is at loggerheads

“Pakistani-based terrorist groups will present a sustained threat to US interests in the region and continue to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan. The threat to the United States and the West from Pakistani-based terrorist groups will be persistent but diffuse,” he said.

Hence, this willingness to cooperate, albeit surprising should be welcomed. Earlier on the visit to the region, US National Security Adviser (NSA), Lt Gen McMaster also reiterated the need to cooperate with Pakistan to end the epidemic, besides also insisting Pakistan to “do more”.

The trilateral meeting was followed by a bilateral meeting military meeting between Afghanistan and Pakistan after the two embroiled in a severe border clash in Chaman last week. The range of issues were discussed to include border management and cross-border firing.

This was in all likelihood a result of the pressure exerted by the closure of the Chaman crossing again, for it stopped trading activities. Besides, the infliction of damage to Afghan forces, in retaliation by Pakistan, also played a part in the meeting.

“Both sides agreed to enhance the frequency of bilateral interactions at multiple tiers through different command and staff channels to foster an environment of mutual respect, trust, cordiality, and cooperation,” the release added.

Read more: Focusing on ISIS: Are we losing sight of a bigger enemy in Afghanistan?

Cooperation: A Key to peace in the region

A military-heavy COIN strategy has not dissuaded the Taliban from controlling 58% of Afghanistan. A new approach with a negotiated end-state in mind is what Afghanistan needs

The resolve to jointly combat the menace of terrorism is a good harbinger and certainly, should be taken in good spirit. The key requirement for putting up a united front is to end mistrust.

As of now, the trio is at loggerheads, Afghanistan and Pakistan accuse each other of terrorism. The US similarly raises concerns about Pakistan’s highly-touted dual game. A well-gelled effort can be made if recriminations are done away with. The US, as a bigger power needs to assuage Pakistan’s fears in Afghanistan. Thereafter, it has to carry out an assessment of its war efforts in Afghanistan.

A new strategy should address all these issues. The situation in Afghanistan is becoming grave, to say the least. A military-heavy COIN strategy has not dissuaded the Taliban from controlling 58% of Afghanistan. A new approach with a negotiated end-state in mind is what Afghanistan needs. Pakistan, being an important stakeholder must be brought on board to chalk-out a dispensation acceptable to all, especially the Afghans.

The US has to use Islamabad’s clout to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in order to kick start an Afghan-led peace process in Afghanistan. This will also help lessen tiffs between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is what the region needs.

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