Washington, March 18
The US has told Pakistan that it “must do more” against Taliban and other terror groups operating in the country, warning that the Trump administration is ready to take unilateral measures if Islamabad failed to stop cross-border attacks from its soil.
The warning, given at a news briefing on Saturday, followed the meeting between US Vice-President Mike Pence and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistani daily Dawn reported.
Abbasi, who was on a personal trip to see his ailing sister in the US, met Pence at the US Naval Observatory, the vice president’s official residence. The meeting was held on Saturday at the request of Abbasi.
The White House in a statement about the meeting said, “Vice President Pence reiterated President Trump’s request that the Government of Pakistan must do more to address the continued presence of the Taliban, Haqqani Network, and other terrorist groups operating in their country.” “The Vice-President stated that US efforts to eliminate terrorist groups who threaten US security and the stability of the region will continue and noted that Pakistan could and should work closer with the US,” the White House said.
During the 30-minute meeting, Pence emphasised the need for immediate action from Pakistan to stop cross-border attacks.
The Dawn reported that hours after Pence-Abbasi meeting, senior Trump administration officials held a special briefing for Washington-based journalists to convey their dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy.
“Six months after the announcement of the South Asia Policy, Pakistan is yet to take the kind of decisive actions that the US is seeking,” one of the officials was quoted as saying by the Dawn.
“We are continuing to look for real actions and not word on the Taliban and the Haqqani sanctuaries,” the official added.
The official demanded cooperative action against terrorists from Pakistan but warned that the US was prepared to take its own measures to protect its personnel in Afghanistan if Islamabad did not take action, the daily said.
The official said that President Donald Trump was constantly monitoring progress on the South Asia policy and wanted Pakistan to do more than “the bare minimum” it’s doing now.
In his new South Asia Policy unveiled in August, Trump had called for tougher measure against Pakistan if it did not cooperate the US in its fight against terrorism.
In his first tweet of the New Year, Trump had accused Pakistan of basing its relationship with the US on “nothing but lies and deceit”.
Days after his tweet, the US suspended over USD 1.15 billion in security aid and the delivery of military equipment to Pakistan for failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last month proposed peace talks with the Taliban.