US Defense Secretary tells Islamabad it must help bring the Taliban to the negotiating table and play a vital role to play in bringing peace to Afghanistan.
Mattis Asks Pakistan To Strengthen Anti-Terror Fight
The US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within that country, the US Embassy in Kabul said in a statement.
Mattis, while visiting Islamabad, also made it clear to Pakistani that it must do its part to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with Afghanistan.
During his visit, Mattis met with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Minister of Defense Khurram Dastigir Khan. Mattis also met with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar.
“Mattis recognized Pakistan's sacrifices in the war against terrorism. 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,” the statement said. “The Secretary reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country.”
In the meantime, ABC News reported that 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.
In brief comments before their meeting, Abbasi said his country is committed to the war on terror and shares the same common objectives as the US.
"Engagement is there," he said, adding that they "need to move forward with (the) issues at hand."
A senior US official told ABC news the meetings were “straightforward,” and that Mattis was very specific that Pakistan needs show it is taking action against the militants. Asked if Mattis set any timelines, the official said the urgency of the matter was communicated.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mattis also made it clear that Pakistan must do its part to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with Afghanistan.
A statement from Abbasi's office said the prime minister talked about recent counterterrorism operations and said Pakistan "would continue to conduct intelligence-based operations all over the country." And it said Abbasi appreciates "the U.S. resolve not to allow the use of Afghan soil against Pakistan."
Earlier, Mattis told reporters traveling with him that he wants to work with Pakistan to address the problems, adding that the US is committed to a pragmatic relationship that expands cooperation while also "reinforcing President Trump's call for action against terrorist safe havens."
"We have heard from Pakistan leaders that they do not support terrorism. So, I expect to see that sort of action reflected in their policies," Mattis said before his trip to Islamabad.
Bajwa, in a statement, said Mattis expressed concern about militants in Pakistan trying to "further their terrorist agenda" in Afghanistan and said he is "prepared to look into the possibility of miscreants exploiting Pakistan's hospitality."
Mattis' statement reflects persistent US assertions that Islamabad is still not doing enough to battle the Taliban and allied Haqqani network insurgents within its borders.