The second round of the ‘Pakistan-US Mid-Level Defence Dialogue’ is scheduled from February 13 (today) to 16 in Washington DC. “Pakistan’s inter-agency delegation, led by the Chief of General Staff, will comprise of senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joint Staff Headquarters and three Services Headquarters. The US multi-agency team will be represented by the Office of Undersecretary of Defence,” Foreign Office Spokesperson said in a press release on Sunday. Issues of bilateral defence and security cooperation will be discussed during the defence dialogue, it was added. The first round of the dialogue was held in Pakistan in January 2021. On the occasion, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin had said that the US relationships with the Pakistani military would provide openings for both the country to cooperate on key issues. Austin, who retired from the military four years ago after serving for more than 40 years, told the committee that the Biden administration believes that “continuing to build relationships with Pakistan’s military will provide openings for the United States and Pakistan to cooperate on key issues”. Meanwhile, with extremist groups expanding their reach, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday called on the international community not to lower its guard against terrorism. The appeal came in his message to mark the first-ever ‘International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism’, established in December by the UN General Assembly. The UN chief described terrorism as an “affront to humanity as it undermines the values that bind us together.” Terrorism also threatens collective efforts to promote peace and security, protect human rights, provide humanitarian aid, and advance sustainable development, Guterres said. “We must be more vigilant than ever,” he said, noting that “terrorist and violent extremist groups are finding fertile ground on the internet to spew their vicious venom.” He said neo-Nazi, white supremacist movements are becoming more dangerous by the day and now represent the top internal security threat in several countries, as well as the fastest growing. Countries must act to confront the challenge through prevention, and by addressing the underlying conditions that drive terrorism in the first place, he added. He highlighted the importance of inclusion and ensuring that counter-terrorism strategies reflect a wide array of voices – especially minorities, women, and young people. Human rights must be at the core of all counter-terrorism policies, he added. “Today and every day, let us work together to build more peaceful, inclusive, and stable societies in which terror and violent extremism have no home,” the secretary-general said.