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US gives Pakistan a list of counter-terror ‘requests’

Secretary of state Rex Tillerson has said that US relations with Islamabad will be “conditions-based”.

world Updated: Oct 23, 2017 23:08 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US secretary of state Rex Tillerson is greeted is greeted by Gen John Nicholson (right) as special charge d'affaires Hugo Llorens (centre) looks on upon arriving at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on October 23, 2017.
US secretary of state Rex Tillerson is greeted is greeted by Gen John Nicholson (right) as special charge d'affaires Hugo Llorens (centre) looks on upon arriving at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on October 23, 2017.(AFP)

The US has given Pakistan a list of “very specific requests” for action against the Taliban and other terror groups it allegedly shelters, adding that relations with Islamabad will now be “conditions-based”.

“We have made some very specific requests of Pakistan in order for them to take action to undermine the support that the Taliban receives and the other terrorist organisations receive in Pakistan,” secretary of state Rex Tillerson told reporters, after arriving unannounced in Afghanistan.

“And we’ve said in this whole strategy this is a conditions-based approach, and so our relationship with Pakistan will also be conditions-based,” he said.

Tillerson named the Taliban, but not its affiliate Haqqani Network, which carries out attacks in Afghanistan from safe havens in Pakistan. He also did not mention groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) that target India. It could not be immediately ascertained if the US list included specific requests about the LeT and JeM.

The top US diplomat, who will be in Islamabad on Tuesday before travelling to India, did not say if these requests were in the nature of conditions that Pakistan must meet or fulfil and if they came with the threat of punitive action, such as aid cuts or revoking its status as a major non-Nato ally.

Asked for details about these requests, a state department spokesperson said: “We do not comment on the details of our private diplomatic conversations.”

Defence secretary James Mattis had told lawmakers earlier this month that the US was willing to work with Pakistan one more time to persuade it to sever ties with terrorists and deny them safe haven, and that a list of actionable things-to-do will be presented to the Islamabad in this regard.

Tillerson told reporters the Trump administration would work with Pakistan “based upon whether they take action that we feel is necessary to move the process forward of both creating the opportunity for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan, but also ensuring a stable future Pakistan”.

“In our conversations with Pakistani leadership, we’re as concerned about the future stability of Pakistan as we are in many respects here in Afghanistan,” he added.

President Donald Trump had earlier urged India to play a larger role in Afghanistan as part of his South Asia strategy — something Pakistan has raised concerns about. When Tillerson was asked if he would reassure Islamabad, he said: “That’s certainly something we’ll be talking about during the visit. But I think our view of the relationship with India is one of strategic importance — not just for this specific region, but in the context of that speech it was about a free and open Indo-Pacific region stretching all the way from Japan to India.”