Pentagon chief seeks more antiterror efforts by Pakistan

Pentagon chief seeks more antiterror efforts by Pakistan

Cheryl Sanders
December 5, 2017

US Defence Secretary James Mattis arrived in Pakistan on Monday for his first visit to the country since taking charge at the Pentagon.

Mattis met with Abbasi and army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, as well as a number of senior Pakistani leaders and military officials and U.S. Ambassador David Hale.

The Prime Minister reiterated that there are no safe havens in Pakistan and the entire nation was committed to its resolve on eradicating terrorism once and for all in all its forms and manifestations. "I believe that we [can] work hard on finding common ground and then we work together", VOA quoted him as saying, yet noting that he would expect Pakistan to adhere to promises it has made to combat terrorism.

While in Islamabad, Secretary Mattis met with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Minister of Defense Khurram Dastigir Khan, according to a readout provided by the U.S. Defense Department.

The United States, according to media reports, has been considering expanding the CIA's drone strikes aimed at militant targets in northwest Pakistan along the border with Pakistan, along with several other measures, which could possibly include downgrading Pakistan's current status as a major non-NATO ally.

Mattis also met with high-ranking officials from Pakistan's powerful military, including army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Lieutenant-General Naveed Mukhtar, the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency that US officials say has links with Haqqani and Taliban militants.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said on Monday that the civil-military leadership was on the same page in meetings with US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

Mattis' trip to Pakistan comes at the end of a short trip to the region, including stops in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.

But Mattis seemed to tone down the sharp language he has used in congressional hearings and other settings to accuse Pakistan of harboring Afghan Taliban fighters. But he, too, said the United States is "hoping to work together with the Pakistanis" to eliminate cross-border terrorism and did not mention any sanctions.

On Saturday, when questioned about whether he would pressure the Islamabad authorities to act against extremists in the country, Mattis stressed that 'this is not the way I treat the problems'.

His visit comes days after a Pakistan court ordered the release from house arrest of the November 26, 2008, Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed.

"You begin by seeking their (Pakistan's) assistance", Pompeo said, noting that Secretary Mattis during his Islamabad visit will "make clear the President's intent" and "deliver the message that we would love you to do that (destroy the safe havens)".

Pakistan has also been upset at Trump's calls for an increased Indian role in rebuilding Afghanistan.

In a blunt assessment early last week, Gen. John Nicholson, the top USA commander in Afghanistan, said there have been no changes in Pakistan's support for militant networks.

The U.S. top brass have always been frustrated by what they see as Pakistan's reluctance to act against groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, which launch attacks on neighboring Afghanistan. One of the measures would be an expansion of USA drone strikes deeper into Pakistan's heartland.

Both sides released comments saying that the US and Pakistan want to continue to work together and that Islamabad plays a key role in the struggle for peace in Afghanistan.

Other reports by iNewsToday