ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday stressed the need to work jointly to seek an ‘early closure’ of the Afghan conflict instead of winning it. “The need of the hour for all of us is to work together and end the miseries of Afghanistan and its people by seeking an early closure of the conflict instead of winning it,” National Security Adviser Lt Gen (r) Nasser Janjua told US Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Alice Wells at a meeting in Islamabad. Ambassador Wells is in Islamabad to discuss matters pertaining to terrorism, bilateral relations and the regional security situation. Welcoming the US dignitary, Lt Gen (r) Janjua stressed that Pakistan and the US had a common cause in seeking ‘early closure’ to the decades-old conflict in Afghanistan. He welcomed President Ghani’s peace offer and termed it as a great opportunity to end the perpetual conflict. “It’s a light at the other side of the tunnel,” he told the visiting dignitary. Lt Gen (r) Janjua assured Ambassador Wells that Pakistan along with all regional countries and the US will support the new peace initiative. He apprised the US official of his recent visit to Kabul where he had held in-depth, positive and constructive discussions with President Ashraf Ghani and other senior government officials. Ambassador Wells agreed on the need to support President Ghani’s peace offer and to make efforts for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan through political reconciliation. “United States policy on Afghanistan is also meant to ultimately bring the insurgents to the peace table for negotiations on finding a peaceful and enduring solution,” she said. “Good relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan which will help them to work in a cooperative framework,” she hoped. Ambassador Wells reiterated that the US valued its relations with Pakistan and was ready to extend cooperation on all issues including the repatriation of Afghan refugees and the common objective of peace, development and stability in South Asia. Lt Gen (r) Janjua also apprised Ambassador Wells of the ongoing efforts against terrorism. He said Pakistan’s unswerving commitment to eradicate all forms of terrorism was in its own national interest. In this context, he also stressed the need for posing trust in each other and continuing intelligence sharing and cooperation. Ambassador Wells also met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the meeting, the two sides reviewed bilateral relations and discussed regional issues particularly the matters related to Afghanistan. Both sides agreed that the momentum of peace initiative unveiled in Kabul by President Ashraf Ghani and followed up at the Tashkent conference needs to be carried forward. Mechanisms for return of Afghan refugees and strengthening border management were also discussed. Both sides reiterated their firm commitments to act against all terrorist groups that target Pakistan and Afghanistan. Noting that the US and Pakistan had a history of cooperation, Ambassador Wells emphasised the importance of working together to achieve the common objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. Foreign secretary apprised the visiting delegation of the continued ceasefire violations by India on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary which undermined the stability of the region. She reiterated Pakistan’s position that a comprehensive dialogue was the only way forward for civilized nations to resolve outstanding issues. The two sides agreed to continue bilateral engagements at all levels. Ambassador Wells is also expected to travel to Karachi to meet senior government officials and the business community. ‘In Islamabad, she [Wells] will meet with US Embassy staff and several senior Pakistani government officials, international organisation leaders, and members of the private sector,” a statement earlier released by the US State Department read. “While in Islamabad, Wells will discuss our South Asia strategy and Pakistan’s stated commitment to eliminate all terrorist groups present in its country, as well as our shared interest in building economic and commercial ties that benefit both nations,” it added. This is the second visit of Ambassador Wells to Pakistan this year which aims at continuing the Pak-US dialogue to strengthen bilateral relations and promote peace and security in the region. Published in Daily Times, March 30th 2018.