United States defense chief lands in Pakistan as ties between allies fray

Marsha Scott
December 5, 2017

In a stern warning to Pakistan, the Central Intelligence Agency chief has said if Islamabad does not eliminate terrorist "safe havens" in its territory, the USA will do "everything" it can to destroy them.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with Egypt's Minister of Defense Gen. Sedky Sobhy in Cairo, Egypt on Saturday. Secretary Mattis also met with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar. The Secretary emphasized the vital role that Pakistan can play in working with the United States and others to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that brings stability and security to the region.

Bajwa, during a meeting at the Pakistan army headquarters in Rawalpindi, said Pakistan had done much more than its capacity to fight terrorism, and will remain committed to peace as a responsible member of the global community, according to a statement by the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), the media-wing of the military. Mattis met with top Pakistani leaders Monday to seek common ground on the counterterrorism fight, amid Trump administration calls for Islamabad to more aggressively go after the insurgents moving back and forth across the border with Afghanistan.

According to the text, Abbasi reiterated the need to find a negotiated solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and armed groups control 40 percent of the national territory, despite the presence of thousands of US soldiers and other nations.

"We have eliminated safe havens from Pakistan's soil but are prepared to look into the possibility of miscreants exploiting Pakistan's hospitality to the Afghan refugees to the detriment of out Afghan brothers", the statement reads.

The top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said last week that Pakistan had yet to take significant actions against the groups and that senior Taliban leadership resides in Pakistan. "But at the same time, they don't mind using terrorism as leverage to deal with Afghanistan and to deal with India", Panetta said, remarking which was why Pakistan "has always been a question mark".

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"We have not seen those changes implemented yet", he told reporters.

Earlier, speaking to reporters, the USA defense chief said: "We have heard from Pakistan leaders that they do not support terrorism".

In August, the United States said it would hold up $255 million in military assistance for Pakistan until it cracks down on extremists threatening Afghanistan.

Mattis's first visit to the country as defense secretary of defense comes as the USA pushes its longtime ally to do more to combat insurgents who allegedly use bases in Pakistan's tribal belt to target North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump's tough words about Pakistan as he unveiled the updated US strategy for the war in Afghanistan, infuriated Islamabad and triggered anti-U.S. protests there that Pakistani police had to use tear gas to disperse.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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