August 6, 2017
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has dismissed latest U.S. assertions it is “selectively” fighting terrorist groups or allowing insurgents to use Pakistani soil for plotting attacks against Afghanistan.
U.S. National Security Adviser McMaster told an American news station Saturday that the Trump administration wants regional countries, particularly Pakistan to stop providing “safe haven and support bases” to the Taliban and Haqqani Network.
“Pakistan has taken action against all the terrorist elements without discrimination. We have never allowed nor will anybody ever be allowed to use Pakistan’s soil against any other country,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria told VOA when asked for his comments on McMaster’s assertions.
The spokesman went on to say that Pakistan and the United States have been cooperating in counterterrorism such such issues came under discussion when the acting American envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan visited Islamabad last week.
“We have clarity in this regard, having suffered unparalleled loss of lives of tens of thousands of our citizens and billions of dollars to Pakistan’s economy that we have to eradicate the menace completely and we shall continue to fight the terrorists, irrespective,” Zakaria said.
Afghan and U.S. officials have long alleged that Pakistani security forces are fighting anti-state militant groups on their soil but not moving against insurgents plotting cross-border attacks. McMaster in his Saturday’s interview reiterated those concerns.
“This is, of course, you know, a very paradoxical situation, right, where Pakistan is taking great losses. They have fought very hard against these groups, but they’ve done so really only selectively,” he said.
President Trump’s administration has not yet announced details of its new Afghan strategy and McMaster also declined to discuss any details, though he asserted the president has taken some important decisions.
The strategy is reportedly also exploring a new approach towards Pakistan that could see more U.S. pressure to address the issue of militant safe havens, expanding drone strikes, reducing aid to Islamabad and downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, Dawlat Waziri has welcomed McMaster’s comments on safe havens in Pakistan. He told VOA the Afghan government has long maintained that without ending the sanctuaries on the other side of the border, the war in Afghanistan will not end.
“The US review for the region including Pakistan is still ongoing and we shall await its outcome,” said Zakaria.