"Senior Pakistani military officers have said that they can no longer discriminate between "good and bad" terrorists.

They appear to be taking meaningful actions to back up their words," General John Campbell, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

During his Congressional hearing on Afghanistan, Campbell said the role of Pakistan remains critical to stability in Afghanistan.

Suspicions and competing interests have historically characterized Afghan-Pakistani relations, and these are most likely to persist in 2015, he noted.

However, the recent high-level engagements between Afghanistan and Pakistani leaders since Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's election represent one promising sign for regional security, he said.

"The common threat of violent extremism may serve as a catalyst for improved cooperation between the two countries, and we have already seen progress in the Afghanistan-Pakistan military-to-military relationship.

Pakistan, just like Afghanistan, has suffered greatly at the hands of terrorists and violent extremists," he said.

The recent Pakistani Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar (on 16 December 2014) could mark a significant shift in bilateral relations, the general said adding that aggressive Pakistan Army operations in the last several months have applied considerable pressure on extremists operating in the border region.

Pointedly, General Raheel, Chief of the Pakistan Army Staff, stated during his recent visit to Kabul," The enemies of Afghanistan are the enemies of Pakistan.

General Raheel's efforts are being matched by President Ghani's initiatives to encourage rapprochement between both countries," he said.

"Encouragingly, both appear to be pushing for an eventual political reconciliation with the Taliban," Campbell said, adding, the US continues to encourage actively and enable the Afghan and Pakistani officers to meet and coordinate their security efforts.

"Recent consultations between Afghan and Pakistani corps commanders showed great promise.

However, it will take considerable time and effort to convince the Afghan and Pakistani people to support this new spirit of accommodation," he added.

"Afghan and Pakistani political and military relations are likely to improve incrementally and on a transactional basis.

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