US asks Pak to take 'decisive action' against terror groups
Washington, Dec 19: US President Donald Trump has asked Pakistan to take "decisive action" against terrorist groups operating from its soil, as he unveiled America's new National Security Strategy (NSS). Mandated by the Congress, Trump released his first National Security Strategy, according to which the US seeks a Pakistan, that is not engaged in destabilising behavior and a stable and self-reliant Afghanistan.
"We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help," Trump said in his remarks as he announced his NSS. Pakistan has received more than USD 33 billion from US since the 9/11 terror attacks. "We will press Pakistan to intensify its counterterrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country's support for militants and terrorists who target a partner's own service members and officials," it said.
The US will also encourage Pakistan to continue demonstrating that it is a responsible steward of its nuclear assets, the NSS said. The US will continue to partner with Afghanistan to promote peace and security in the region, it said. "We will continue to promote anti-corruption reform in Afghanistan to increase the legitimacy of its government and reduce the appeal of violent extremist organisations," it added.
The NSS links its efforts to build trade and investment ties with Pakistan with improvement in security. "We will press Pakistan to intensify its counterterrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country's support for militants and terrorists who target a partner's own service members and officials," it said. Observing that the US continues to face threats from transnational terrorists and militants operating from within Pakistan, the NSS said the prospect for an Indo-Pakistani military conflict that could lead to a nuclear exchange remains a key concern requiring consistent diplomatic attention.
The Trump Administration has been talking tough with Pakistan after it came to power, but has stopped short of taking any action against it even though the Pakistani leadership have shown reluctance in taking decisive actions against terrorist groups. On November 25, the White House asked Pakistan to immediately re-arrest and prosecute Hafiz Saeed, leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba. "If Pakistan does not take action to lawfully detain Saeed and charge him for his crimes, its inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and for Pakistans global reputation," the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had said.
In his South Asia speech on August 21, Trump became the first US president to publicly point out for its support to terrorist outfits and leaders. "For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror," he said and asked Pakistan to "demonstrate" its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace.
US, Trump then said, can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. Since then top US leadership including the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have visited Pakistan to press the latter.
Mattis has refused to give necessary certification to Pakistan that it is taking action against Haqqani network, as a result of which blocking several hundred million coalition support funds to Islamabad. However, in the last few weeks, top Pakistani diplomats based in the US have gone on a diplomatic overdrive to sell its narrative and have accused the Trump Administration of Indian agenda in South Asia.
During their series of public appearances at various think tanks in Washington Dc and New York, the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, and its Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi have said the pronouncement of the Trump administration "which simply puts the blame" on Pakistan and asks India to "do more" in Afghanistan is "disconcerting" for Pakistan.
Both the diplomats insisted that there is crises of governance in US and the White House "being under siege" are affecting ties with South Asia. Foreign Policy establishment is understaffed, they observed.