Mattis tells Pakistan to ‘redouble’ efforts against militants

US officials have long been frustrated by what they see as Pakistan’s reluctance to act against groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network that they believe exploit safe havens on Pakistani soil.

world Updated: Dec 04, 2017 21:46 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Agencies, Islamabad
US defence secretary James Mattis,Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi,army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa
File photo of US defence secretary James Mattis.(Reuters)

US defence secretary James Mattis on Monday urged Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders to “redouble” their efforts to rein in militants accused of using the country as a base to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

Mattis, on a one-day visit to Pakistan, said the country had made progress in the fight against militancy inside its borders but needed to do more. His trip comes two weeks after a Pakistani court released Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed from house arrest, prompting a furious response from the White House.

“The secretary reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

In his discussion with Mattis, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the two nations shared objectives.”We’re committed (to) the war against terror,” he said. “Nobody wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan.”

Mattis also met top military officials, including army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI chief Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar— the spy agency that US officials say has links with Haqqani network and Taliban militants.

Mattis earlier told reporters he wants to work with Pakistan to address the problems, adding the US is committed to a pragmatic relationship that expands cooperation while also “reinforcing President Trump’s call for action against terrorist safe havens.”

“We have heard from Pakistan leaders that they do not support terrorism. So I expect to see that sort of action reflected in their policies,” Mattis said.

Asked if he was going to press the Pakistani leaders to take more action against the insurgents, Mattis said: “I believe that we work hard on finding the common ground and then we work together.”

US officials have long been frustrated by what they see as Pakistan’s reluctance to act against groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network that they believe exploit safe havens on Pakistani soil to launch attacks in Afghanistan.

Gen John Nicholson, the top US general in Afghanistan, said last week: “We have been very direct and very clear with the Pakistanis...we have not seen those changes implemented yet.”

First Published: Dec 04, 2017 16:02 IST