The US warned on Thursday that Pakistan’s fight against terrorism would not succeed until it makes a “decisive shift” in its policy of tolerance towards externally-focused groups and targets all militant groups without discrimination.
“While the progress Pakistan has made through its recent operations is laudable, its struggle with terrorism will not come to an end until it makes a decisive shift in its policy of tolerance towards externally-focused groups,” Richard Olson, the special US representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told member of the Senate foreign relations committee during a congressional hearing on Afghanistan.
“US officials have been very clear with the most senior Pakistani leadership that Pakistan must target all militant groups without discrimination -- including those that target Pakistan’s neighbours -- and close all safe havens,” Olson said.
Olson, who is the Obama administration’s point person for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told senators that Pakistan’s leaders have assured the US of their intention to do so.
“In this regard, we welcomed chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif’s statement on July 6, in which he directed Pakistani military commanders, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement agencies to take concrete measures to deny any militant group safe haven or the use of Pakistani soil to launch terrorist attacks in Afghanistan,” Olson said as top American Senators lashed out at Pakistan for its behaviour against terrorism.
“Pakistan continues to be tremendously duplicitous partner in this. They are working against our interest there (in Afghanistan). They are supporting the Haqqani network,” Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate foreign relations said.
In his testimony, Olson said the US continues to support the India-Afghanistan relationship, including through the revival of a US-India-Afghanistan trilateral, which will take place next week on the margins of the UN General Assembly.
“We welcomed India’s provision of training and non-lethal security assistance to Afghanistan and its significant development contributions over the past decade-plus,” he said.
China’s role in the region continues to evolve, and includes its participation in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group.
“We have also welcomed China’s bilateral development aid and look forward to seeing China at the Brussels conference,” he added.
Olson said while international support for Afghanistan remains strong, regional support continues to be filtered through complex national priorities.
“Despite greater regional cooperation overall, regional players continue to hedge so long as they have doubts about the viability of the Afghan state. We continue to support Afghanistan as it works to improve relations with its neighbours and near-neighbours, promoting broader regional stability,” he observed.