Pak action against LeT, JeM incomplete says Biden’s pick for Pentagon
New Delhi, Jan 20: Gen (retired) Lloyd Austin, president-elect Joe Biden's pick for the Pentagon has said that Pakistan's actions against against anti-India terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are incomplete.
He also described China's increasingly aggressive actions across the Indo-Pacific as a key concern for the US. At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Austin said that if he is confirmed for the post, he will work to continue elevating the defence partnership with India and work to further operationalise India's Major Defence Partner status.
He said that Asia must be the focus of the US efforts, and that he sees China, in particular as the pacing challenge for the Department.
"Globally, I believe the most significant challenge I will face will be to ensure the Department of Defense's continued efforts to prepare and strengthen the US military for a dynamic, future security landscape driven by accelerating competitions with China and with Russia - with China as our pacing threat in most areas - while still ensuring our ability to deter today's range of threats," he said.
On Pakistan he said, "I understand Pakistan has taken constructive steps against anti-Indian groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, although the progress is incomplete.
"Many factors in addition to the security assistance suspension may impact Pakistan's cooperation, including Afghanistan negotiations and the dangerous escalation following the Pulwama terrorist attack," he also said.
Pakistan will continue to play an important role in any political settlement in Afghanistan and the US also needs to work with the country to defeat Al-Qaeda and the ISIS and enhance regional stability.
"I would further operationalise India's 'Major Defense Partner' status and continue to build upon existing strong defence cooperation to ensure the US and Indian militaries can collaborate to address shared interests. I would also seek to deepen and broaden our defence cooperation through the Quad security dialogue and other regional multilateral engagements," he said.
Austin, 67 will be the first African American to run the department of defence. However he needs to be granted a waiver by both the House of Representatives and Senate because the National Security Act requires the secretary of defence to wait seven years after active duty service before taking up the job.