US NSA McMaster tells Pakistan leaders to confront ‘terror in all forms’
US National Security Adviser HR McMaster has told Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership of the need to confront “terrorism in all its forms” during an unannounced visit to Islamabad.
US National Security Adviser HR McMaster on Monday told Pakistan’s top civil and military leaders to “confront terrorism in all its forms”, a day after he hinted the Trump administration could take a tougher stance on Islamabad’s efforts to counter militant groups.
McMaster arrived in Pakistan for an unannounced visit after travelling to Afghanistan, where he told the media that Pakistan should target militant groups “less selectively” and stop using “proxies that engage in violence”.
A statement from the US embassy in Islamabad said McMaster expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s democratic and economic development but also “stressed the need to confront terrorism in all its forms”.
McMaster, making his first visit to Pakistan as National Security Adviser, discussed a range of bilateral and regional issues with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, special advisor to the prime minister Sartaj Aziz, and his Pakistani counterpart Nasser Khan Janjua.
There has been growing criticism by American officials and lawmakers of Pakistan’s policy of targeting some terror groups while turning a blind eye to the activities of others such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba that target India.
A statement from Sharif’s office quoted the premier welcoming President Donald Trump’s apparent “willingness to help India and Pakistan resolve their differences particularly on Kashmir and noted that this could go a long way in bringing sustainable peace, security and prosperity to the region”.
Sharif also referred to his commitment to a peaceful neighbourhood and “reiterated his firm conviction on sustained dialogue and meaningful engagement as the only way forward to resolve all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including the Kashmir dispute”.
But India has already rejected any role for the US in mediating between New Delhi and Islamabad, especially after America’s envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, recently suggested Trump could play a role in the region.
Sharif also sought to assure the US of his administration’s efforts to counter extremism, telling McMaster about a “marked improvement in the overall security situation” that captured the spirit of “new Pakistan” and “across-the-board consensus” achieved by his government to combat terrorism.
McMaster, the first top member of Trump’s administration to visit Pakistan, spoke of the need for Pakistan to change its approach towards terror during an interview with Afghanistan’s Tolo News channel on Sunday: “As all of us have hoped for many, many years, we have hoped that Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after these groups less selectively than they have in the past and the best way to pursue their interest in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy, not through the use of proxies that engage in violence.”
His delegation included Lisa Curtis, the National Security Council’s senior director for South Asia, who recently co-authored a paper calling on the US to stop treating Pakistan as an ally and instead to “focus on diplomatically isolating” it if it continues to support terror groups.