The US Defence Secretary will visit Pakistan on Monday to urge Islamabad to take action against terrorists safe havens.
Mattis To Visit Pakistan To Call On Islamabad To Fight Terrorists
The US Defence Secretary James Mattis will visit Pakistan on Monday as part of a four-nation tour during which he is expected to pressure Islamabad to do more against militant groups.
During the tour, Mattis will visit Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Kuwait to re-affirm the enduring US's commitment to partnerships in the Middle East, West Africa and South Asia, the Pentagon said.
Mattis would reach Pakistan on December 4, the second such trip after US President Donald Trump announced his South Asia strategy on August 21. Trump while announcing the strategy had criticised Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists.
Pakistan denies sheltering the militants, and the issue has emerged as a major irritant to bilateral ties.
In October, Mattis had said the US would try "one more time" to work with Pakistan before taking "whatever steps are necessary" to address its alleged support for the militants.
During his Pakistan visit, Mattis is expected to meet Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.
In the meantime, PTI reported that Mattis said that the US wants Pakistan to act in “its best interest” and take action against terror safe havens.
“In Afghanistan, 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 told reporters travelling with him to Egypt. “They have said that they do not support havens for any terrorists, and Pakistan has taken significant casualties — both innocent people and their army — significant casualties from them. So we expect them to act in their own best interest, and in support of peace and regional stability,” he said.
Responding to a question on Pakistan’s failure to take actions against terrorists, Mattis said Pakistan has to act in its own best interest. “They know this. In many cases, they are. But what we’re looking for is to broaden the common ground and make certain that no terrorist organisation is seen as able to operate from a haven there,” he said.
Observing that 39 nations have troops on the ground in Afghanistan fighting terrorism, Mattis said the US was looking to make a common cause with them.
“There’s plenty of collaborative areas, right now, still in effect. There’s been some areas that we have lost over the years, because of disagreements about what we need to do,” he said.
“So this is an effort by the new American administration, to go in and set the conditions for future collaboration that leads to reconciliation in Afghanistan and a denial of safe havens for any terrorist group that would attack anyone in the region or elsewhere in the world, which a number of countries have suffered from,” Mattis said.