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No blank cheques for Pakistan: US

Downplaying the WikiLeaks revelations about links between Pakistan's spy agency and terrorist groups, the United States has said there are no blank cheques for Islamabad and it must do more to eliminate terrorist safe havens.

world Updated: Jul 27, 2010 16:39 IST

Downplaying the WikiLeaks revelations about links between Pakistan's spy agency and terrorist groups, the United States has said there are no blank cheques for Islamabad and it must do more to eliminate terrorist safe havens.

"We have certainly known about safe havens in Pakistan; we have been concerned about civilian casualties for quite some time - and on both of those aspects we've taken steps to make improvements," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on Monday.

When the new US commander in Afghanistan, General Petraeus "testified in front of the Senate there was a fairly robust discussion about the historical relationships that have been had between the Taliban and Pakistan's intelligence services," he said.

Asked if the US had no doubts about Pakistan's trustworthiness or reliability in view of the leaks, Gibbs said: "No, no, look, I think the President (Barack Obama) was clear back in March of 2009 that there was no blank cheque for Pakistan, that Pakistan had to change the way it dealt with us, it had to make progress on safe havens."

"It's in the interest of the Pakistanis because we certainly saw last year those extremists that enjoy the safe haven there turning their eye on innocent Pakistanis," he said. "That's why you've seen Pakistan make progress in moving against extremists in Swat and in South Waziristan."

"But at the same time, even as they make progress, we understand that the status quo is not acceptable and that we have to continue moving this relationship in the right direction," Gibbs said.

Asked if in view of the revelations that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), nurtured the Taliban in the 1990s and has maintained ties to the group ever since, it made sense to continue to provide billions of dollars in US aid to Pakistan, Gibbs again recalled Obama's March 2009 statement

Obama had then said: "After years of mixed results we will not and cannot provide a blank cheque. Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out al Qaeda and the violent extremists within its borders."

Gibbs said he was not going to "tell you that all is well." But "I will tell you that we have made progress in moving this relationship forward; in having the Pakistanis address the issue of safe havens, the issue of extremists operating in the country by undertaking operations, again, in Swat and in South Waziristan.

"Over the course of the past more than year and a half, what the Pakistanis have found is that the extremists that once enjoyed complete save haven in parts of their country now threaten their country," he said. "So they've taken steps. We want to continue to work with them to take more steps."