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Pakistan’s ties with India critical for its future: US

safe_imageWashington: Pakistan’s relationship with India is “critical” for its future and the normalisation of their ties is vital for them and the region, President Barack Obama’s ambassadorial nominee for Islamabad said on Tuesday.

“Pakistan’s relationship with India is critical to Pakistan’s future. The normalisation of relations between the two countries is vital, both to them and to the region,” David Hale, the nominee for the US Ambassador to Pakistan, told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing.

Hale said relations with its neighbours play an important part in Pakistan’s security and prosperity.

Pakistan has undertaken important outreach to Afghanistan following the Afghan election, and the two countries have made some progress against terrorist safe havens on both sides of the border, he added.

“Given the drawdown in US forces in Afghanistan, it is all the more critical that relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan be strong and cooperative, and that Pakistan continue to put pressure on the Taliban to join an Afghan-led peace process,” Hale said.

During the confirmation hearing, he welcomed Pakistan’s commitment to target all militant groups on Pakistani soil equally an objective that is absolutely in the interests of the United States.

“We and the Pakistanis also share deep concern and must remain vigilant for any sign that ISIL is gaining a foothold in Pakistan. Our shared, strategic interests extend well beyond any particular group; it is from the ungoverned spaces in remote parts of the border region that spring a multitude of threats, both militant and criminal, affecting Pakistan, the region, and the broader world, including the US,” he said.

The United States, he said, is actively engaged with Pakistan on strategic stability and non-proliferation issues.

“While our governments do not see eye-to-eye on all issues, we share a number of common interests including the high importance of ensuring nuclear security and preventing the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction,” he added.

“We are pleased that Pakistan is fully engaged with the international community on nuclear safety and security issues, including as an active partner in the Nuclear Security Summit process,” Hale told the lawmakers.

Hale said experience has demonstrated that sustained, consistent engagement with Pakistan provides US with the best chance to address challenges and advance its core interests.

“US security assistance to Pakistan is equally important and is directly supporting Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency operations, clear terrorist safe havens, and stem the flow of deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which have killed far too many civilians and security personnel,” he said.

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