image courtesy:Modern War Institute

U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, HR McMaster met Pakistan’s prime minister and army chief on Monday and emphasized “the need to confront terrorism in all its forms”, while praising democratic and economic development.

Herbert Raymond “H. R.” McMaster (born July 24, 1962) is a United States Army officer and currently the U.S. National Security Advisor. His immediate  past military assignment was as Director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center,and Deputy Commanding General, Futures of the U.S.Army Training and Doctrine Command.

It was McMaster’s first visit to Pakistan as the US National Security Adviser and the first formal high-level exchange between the US and Pakistan under the administration of President Donald Trump, the PM’s office said.

In his call on with Sharif, McMaster conveyed President Trumps greetings and assured the Prime Minister that the new administration was committed to strengthening bilateral ties and working with Pakistan, to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the wider South Asian region, it said.

McMaster arrived in Pakistan for an unannounced visit after travelling to Afghanistan, where he told the media that that Pakistan should target militant groups “less selectively” and pursue diplomacy that does not use “proxies that engage in violence”.

Sharing his concerns over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the continuing impasse, Sharif conveyed Pakistans readiness to work with the international community to explore ways in which the Afghan crisis can be resolved, it said.

McMasters visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan comes just days after the US dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb targeting an Islamic State complex in Afghanistan, close to the border with Pakistan.

He discussed a range of bilateral and regional issues during meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, special advisor to the prime minister Sartaj Aziz, and National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua.

The visiting delegation included US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale, Acting US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Laurel Miller, Senior Director for South Asia Lisa Curtis and Director Pakistan in the National Security Council Jay Wise.

The meeting was also attended by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Aziz, Fatemi, Janjua, and other senior officials.

A statement from the US embassy in Islamabad said McMaster expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s democratic and economic development but also “stressed the need to confront terrorism in all its forms”.

During McMasters call on, Sharif, while talking about Indo-Pak ties, reiterated his “firm conviction” to sustained dialogue and meaningful engagement as the only way forward to resolve all outstanding issues, including the Kashmir dispute, a Prime Ministers Office (PMO) statement here said.

Sharif welcomed President Trumps willingness to help India and Pakistan resolve their differences particularly on Kashmir and noted that this could go a long way in bringing sustainable peace, security and prosperity to the region, the statement said.

A statement from Sharif’s office quoted the prime minister as saying that Pakistan is looking forward to “forging a strong and mutually beneficial partnership with the US” and working with the new US administration to “promote peace and security in the region and beyond”.

Sharif also referred to his commitment to a peaceful neighbourhood and “reiterated his firm conviction on sustained dialogue and meaningful engagement as the only way forward to resolve all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including the Kashmir dispute”.

India has already rejected any role for the US in mediating between New Delhi and Islamabad.

McMaster, the first top member of Trump’s administration to visit Pakistan, told sources on Sunday, “As all of us have hoped for many many years, we have hoped that Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after (militant) groups less selectively than they have in the past and the best way to pursue their interest in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy not through the use of proxies that engage in violence.”

His delegation included Lisa Curtis, the National Security Council’s senior director for South Asia, who recently co-authored a paper calling on the US to stop treating Pakistan as an ally and instead to “focus on diplomatically isolating” it if it continues to support terror groups.