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PR No.131 CALL ON THE FINANCE MINISTER BY GENERAL JOSEPH VOTEL, COMMANDER UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND Islamabad: January 16, 2017.

Commander US Central Command, General Joseph Votel, called on the Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar, here today. Minister for Defence, Khawaja Muhammad Asif and DG, ISI, Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar also participated in the meeting.

Welcoming General Votel, the Finance Minister stated that Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with the United States and wishes to further enhance the political and military cooperation between the two countries. He said that US support has been critical for the efforts against the menace of terrorism and violent extremism and hoped that such cooperation would continue in the future.

The Finance Minister stated that Pakistan is committed to rooting out terrorism and violent extremism and the initiation of ‘Operation Zarb-e-Azb’ in 2014 was a clear manifestation of the government’s resolve. He stated that the operation was launched and sustained through country’s own resources. The operation also resulted in displacement of a large number of people, for whom the government made adequate arrangements, resulting in additional unbudgeted financial costs.

The Minister reiterated Pakistan’s desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan which was essential for regional stability. He stated that effective coordination among stakeholders and comprehensive political reconciliation process in Afghanistan was imperative to achieve these objectives. He said that improvement in security and economic conditions would also ensure early return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan to their homeland. He also shared with the CENTCOM Chief Pakistan’s efforts for effective border management and stressed on the need for enhancement of similar efforts on the Afghan side. Finance Minister reiterated Pakistan’s resolve not to allow its soil to be used against any country.

The CENTCOM Chief stated that the US acknowledged the human and material sacrifices made by Pakistan in fighting terrorism. He emphasized that continued military cooperation between the two countries was essential. He also stated that the commitment of the political and military leadership of Pakistan to counter terrorism was greatly appreciated.

The US Commander expressed that the improved security and economic environment in Pakistan was heartening. He hoped that the CPEC initiative will further strengthen Pakistan’s economy. The CENTCOM Chief stated that robust border management was important for both Pakistan and Afghanistan. He assured US support to the two countries in this regard.

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