US defence secretary to ‘set the conditions’ for ties during Pakistan visit
Mattis reaches Islamabad on December 4 and will meet Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in an attempt to fix the US-Pakistan relationship.world Updated: Dec 02, 2017 20:34 IST
US defence secretary James Mattis has said that his upcoming visit to Pakistan was part of an effort to “set the conditions for future collaboration” that would lead to denial of safe havens “for any terrorist group that would attack anyone in the region”.
Mattis reaches Islamabad on December 4 and will meet Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in an attempt to fix a relationship on a downward spiral, which has come under renewed scrutiny of the Trump administration.
“This is an effort... by the 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.
He said the US would like to broaden the focus to ensure “no terrorist organisation is seen as able to operate from a haven there”.
President Donald Trump has warned Pakistan that the US “will not be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorists” and that “it has much to lose by continuing to harbour criminals and terrorists”.
That message seemingly not reached the Pakistani leadership. After a court ended Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed’s house arrest, the White House issued an angry warning, threatening Pakistan with “repercussions” for the bilateral relationship if it did not immediately re-arrest him. However, Hafiz remains free, despite that explicit warning.
In October, Mattis told US lawmakers that the administration was willing to work with Pakistan “one more time” before rolling out punitive measures to compel it to act more decisively against terrorists. When asked what those measure might be, he did not rule down withdrawing Pakistan’s “major non-NATO ally” status as an option.