Washington, December 22: During his unannounced visit to Afghanistan, Vice President Mike Pence has said US President Donald Trump has put Pakistan on notice for providing safe haven to the Taliban and other terror organisations in its soil.
"For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organisations, but those days are over," Pence told American troops at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.
"President Trump has put Pakistan on notice," Pence said, addressing about 500 troops in a hangar decorated with Christmas decorations and massive armored vehicles.
"As the President said, so I say now: Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with the US, and Pakistan has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists," the vice president said, issuing another stern warning to Pakistan, for which using non-state actors against its two neighbours India and Afghanistan has been part of its national security policy. Trump, he said, has unleashed the full range of American military might.
"We've lifted the restrictions that limited the effectiveness of our armed forces, so you can, as the President has said, fully and swiftly wage battle against the enemy," he said.
The Trump Administration, he said, has given the troops new authorities to directly target the terrorists and militants no matter where they hide. He has empowered battlefield commanders with the freedom and flexibility they need to win.
Pence said this new strategy is already bearing fruit all across Afghanistan. "American people deserve to know that with the courage of everyone gathered here, we're making real progress in this fight for freedom in Afghanistan. We've dramatically increased American air strikes. And together with our Afghan partners, we've put the Taliban on the defensive," he said.
"We've prevented them from launching a major campaign against a provincial capital for the first time in three years. We've targeted the Taliban's funding as never before through renewed attacks on its drug trafficking networks, Pence said.
"All across this country we've won new victories against the terrorists, no matter what they call themselves or where they try to hide. Our enemies will have no time to recover or rebuild because we will continue to bring overwhelming force to defeat them every day, every time," Pence said.
Trump, according to him, has ordered the integration of every facet of American power, diplomatic and economic measures to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan.
"And until that day comes, you can be assured, we will be relentless in our campaign to destroy our enemies. Because as history attests, weakness arouses evil, and peace only comes through strength.
So be strong and courageous, and do the work of freedom," Pence said. In Afghanistan, Pence met the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah.
"We discussed the progress that we've made in this country and America's commitment to the Afghan government and the commitment of the Afghanis to their own freedom in this land," he said.
"I said to them what I say to you now: Under President Donald Trump, the Armed Forces of the United States will remain engaged in Afghanistan until we eliminate the terrorist threat to our homeland, our people once and for all," he added.