The United States of America is waiting for Pakistan to take “practical” steps to counter terrorist groups, a top US diplomat said in Washington, DC, as the country’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson completed his South Asia tour.
The Donald Trump administration in the US looks “forward over the next weeks and months to see the practical steps that Pakistan takes” against ” groups that have been able to use its territory,” Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Alice G Wells told reporters on Friday.
Wells went on to echo Rex Tillerson, who during his visits to Pakistan and India is said to have told Islamabad that if the latter does not act against terrorist groups using its soil, the United States would.
“This is about Pakistan’s sovereign choice. This is not about America giving dictation. We’ve described our strategy, we’ve described a very important role for Pakistan, who we see as a very important country in the region, but it’s up to them whether or not they want to work with us on this strategy. And if they don’t, as the Secretary said, we’ll adjust accordingly,” Wells said on Friday.
“The Secretary stressed the importance of Pakistan moving quickly to demonstrate good faith and efforts to use its influence to create the conditions that will get the Taliban to the negotiating table,” Wells added.
Wells went on to suggest that the Washington simply wants Islamabad to do what it has done in the past when it took a “strategic decision to defeat the terrorist groups that were targeting the government of Pakistan.”
“And with great loss of life, great courage, great vision about what needed to be done, Pakistan has fought that battle and now has regained control and sovereignty over the FATA territories,” Wells said. “We’d like to see the same strategic commitment brought against other militant groups, whether that are operating or have used Pakistan’s territory, whether they are directed against India or directed against Afghanistan.”
TILLERSON’S PAK VISIT
Tillerson, during his meetings with Pakistani leadership, had an extremely candid conversationwith the Prime Minister and the civilian and military leadership team, she said.
The Secretary underscored that the strategy is an opportunity; since Pakistan, with the exception of Afghanistan, has the most to benefit from a stable and peaceful country next door.
He noted that at several critical junctures over the last 70 years, the US has worked very closely with Pakistan, and the Coleman hostage is an example of what they can do when together.
“But under the strategy, we’ve laid out some very specific expectations of how Pakistan can help create the conditions that will help bring the Taliban to the table.
And I think the longstanding relationships with the militant and terrorist organizations our concern is that they threaten Pakistan s stability.
You see already the spillover of the sectarianism that has been building in Pakistan over the last several decades, she said.
According to Wells, over the last four years Pakistani officials and the Taliban both thought the US was withdrawing.
“They were hedging against a chaotic departure. They were hedging against an uncertain security environment,” she said.
“What the South Asia strategy gives them, is certainty that we’re there, we’re not going to let the Taliban win, that we re prepared to invest the resources that will be, at a minimum, a stalemate but a stalemate increasingly in the government’s favor,” she said.