ISLAMABAD - In a rare move, Pakistan’s military chief Thursday condemned as terrorism a Taliban attack in neighboring Afghanistan in which two U.S. troops were killed and four others wounded.
The denunciation by General Qamar Javed Bajwa came on a day when the U.S. special envoy for the region, Alice Wells, began a two-day official visit to Islamabad to discuss ways to end the armed Afghan conflict, among other issues.
“We fully understand the loss and pain of victims' families as Pakistan is undergoing a similar trail of blood in the fight against a common threat of terrorism,” a Pakistani army statement quoted Bajwa as saying.
The general offered “heartfelt” condolences on the death of the two U.S. soldiers.
The Islamist Taliban swiftly took credit for Wednesday's attack in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, saying one of its suicide bombers drove his explosives-packed car into the convoy.
A Taliban spokesman says 15 soldiers belonging to “foreign occupation forces,” including two “high-ranking” officers, were killed. The insurgent group refers to the U.S.-led NATO military mission in Afghanistan as occupation forces.
The Taliban routinely exaggerates casualty figures when making such claims.
U.S. and Afghan officials have long alleged the Pakistani military covertly supports and shelters Taliban leaders and members of the Haqqani network plotting deadly attacks against local and international forces in the country.
Islamabad rejects the charges and maintains it is making all possible efforts to secure the largely porous border with Afghanistan and promote peace and reconciliation among the warring Afghan sides.
Alleged insurgent sanctuaries on Pakistani soil are a major irritant in Islamabad’s relations with Washington.
The visiting U.S. delegation headed by Wells met with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, during which the Pakistani side shared its perspectives on challenges confronting the region, including the security situation in Afghanistan, an official announcement said Thursday.
“The foreign secretary hoped that the ongoing U.S. review [of Afghan policy] would result in a comprehensive political strategy to promote reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan and the region,” the statement added.
The U.S. envoy acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism, it added.
“Ambassador Wells agreed on the importance of a strong partnership between the United States and Pakistan and gave the U.S.’ perspective on how to move forward this relationship in the coming years,” according to the Foreign Ministry statement.
Local media reported the American delegation is also expected to meet General Bajwa on Friday.