US to continue work with Pakistan on counterterrorism and border security amid growing attacks

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State Department Spokesperson Ned Price at May 5, 2022 press briefing. Photo: videograb state.gov

Counterterrorism and border security are among areas of mutual interest where the United States wants to work with Pakistan, the State Department said amid the deteriorating security environment in Pakistan with growing attacks by militants.

“We value our bilateral relationship. We want to continue to work together in areas where we do have mutual interests with our Pakistani partners. That includes counterterrorism. That includes border security as well.” Ned Price, State Department’s spokesperson said on Thursday.

The remark came in a response to a question if the US government would like to resume its security assistance to Islamabad amid growing militant attacks inside the country. Price also condemned the Karachi University suicide bombing which killed four people, including three Chinese nationals.

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“Well, at the time, we strongly condemned the terrorist attack against Karachi University. We reiterate that condemnation today, but for a terrorist attack to take place at a university, or at a religious site … — that is a true affront to mankind” he said.

Since the US exit from the region and the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan, militant violence has grown significantly in Pakistan, with both TTP militants and Baloch insurgents mounting deadly attacks on a regular basis.

Last year in 2021, Pakistan recorded a total of 267 security-related incidents, claiming the lives of 214 civilians and 226 security personnel— an increase from 190 incidents in 2020, involving the killings of 169 civilians and 178 security forces personnel, according to data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP).

This year, over 132 security personnel have been in just four months in 112 incidents. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also knowns as the Pakistan Taliban, remains one of the top challenges, responsible for most attacks on security forces.

For the first time since 2015, when the Pakistan Army drove out the TTP from its stronghold in the tribal region of Waziristan, the group is once again threatening the country. A series of mergers of splinter groups in the last few years and the Afghan Taliban’s return next door boosted the TTP’s operational capacity in a big way.

The group’s leaders and top commanders continue to enjoy safe haven in Afghanistan, threatening the ties between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban.

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