Washington/Islamabad, Jun 29: Pakistan's ambassador to the US has urged the US to provide small arms and modern equipment to his country to ensure the success of Operation Azm-i-Istehkam, Islamabad's newly approved counter-terrorism initiative.

The decision to launch the 'Azm-e-Istehkam' operation was taken on June 22 at the apex committee meeting of the National Action Plan, a strategy approved in 2014 to eliminate militancy from the country.

The federal government recently approved the reinvigorated national counter-terrorism drive.

“Pakistan has launched Azm-i-Istehkam (…) to oppose and dismantle terrorist networks. For that, we need sophisticated small arms and communication equipment,” Ambassador Masood Khan was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

He made these remarks while addressing US policymakers, scholars, intelligentsia, and corporate leaders at a Washington think tank, the Wilson Centre, earlier this week.

Khan elaborated that 'Azm-i-Istehkam' comprises three components: doctrinal, societal, and operational. He noted that work on the first two phases has already begun, with the third phase set to be implemented soon.

The decision to launch a new anti-terror operation was taken when the country faced a new onslaught by the Tehreek-i-Taliban militants who, according to officials, are based in Afghanistan.

Khan emphasised that Pakistan and the US should maintain strong security links, enhance intelligence cooperation, resume sales of advanced military platforms, and work on “the sustainment of US-origin defence equipment”.

“This is crucial for regional security and opposing the rising tide of terrorism that also threatens the interests of the US and its allies,” he added.

Khan argued that the bilateral relationship should be based on ground realities and not be hindered by a few issues.

“Secondly, one or two issues should not hold the entire relationship hostage,” he noted.

He pointed to high-level defence talks, frequent meetings, and joint military exercises like Inspired Union-2024, Falcon Talon, and Red Flag as examples of robust defence cooperation between Pakistan and the US.

Khan also suggested that the US should consider Pakistan as a partner in its diplomatic efforts in Kabul and collaborate on counterterrorism and the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

“In this era of renewed strategic competition, the US and Pakistan should build on existing partnerships and explore new horizons to establish the parameters of mutual interests,” the envoy said.

“We should not base our engagement on the incongruity of expectations. Our ties should be anchored in ground realities, even as we aim for stronger security and economic partnerships. Secondly, one or two issues should not hold the entire relationship hostage,” he said.

Meanwhile, the US State Department expressed support to Pakistan.

On June 26, While responding to questions State Department's spokesperson Matthew Miller said “We support Pakistan's efforts to combat terrorism and ensure the safety and security of its citizens in a manner that promotes the rule of law and protection of human rights."

“Pakistani people have suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks. No country should have to suffer such acts of terror,” he added. PTI