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US tells Pakistan to crack down on terror groups, talks of ‘new relationship’

Acting assistant secretary of state Alice Wells urged the Pakistan government “to address the continuing presence of the Haqqani Network and other terrorist groups within its territory”.

world Updated: Jan 16, 2018 18:57 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
US-Pakistan relations,terrorism,Haqqani Network
Acting assistant secretary of state Alice Wells during her meeting with Pakistan foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua at the Foreign Office in Islamabad on January 15, 2018.(Courtesy Government of Pakistan)

The United States on Tuesday reiterated its demand for Pakistan to act against the Haqqani Network and other terror groups operating from its soil, saying it wants to forge a “new relationship” with the country based on mutual interests.

Visiting US acting assistant secretary of state Alice Wells raised the issue of cracking down on terrorists with foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua and other Pakistani interlocutors, according to a statement from the US embassy.

“Ambassador Wells urged the government of Pakistan to address the continuing presence of the Haqqani Network and other terrorist groups within its territory”, the statement said.

Wells is the first top American official to travel to Islamabad since the US suspended security-related aid worth nearly $2 billion over Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts. The development took bilateral ties to a fresh low amid growing mistrust over the support of terror groups by Pakistan’s powerful military establishment.

During her meetings with Pakistani officials, Wells “underlined that the US seeks to move toward a new relationship with Pakistan, based on our mutual interest in realising a stable and prosperous region”, the statement said.

While acknowledging Pakistan’s sacrifices fighting terrorism, Wells “emphasised that the US South Asia strategy represents an opportunity to work together for the establishment of a stable, peaceful Afghanistan, the defeat of (Islamic State) in South Asia, and the elimination of terrorist groups that threaten both Pakistan and the US”.

During her meeting with Wells on Monday, foreign secretary Janjua had protested against what she described as the Indian Army chief’s “irresponsible” remarks and the “pattern of escalation” on the Line of Control, and called on Washington to advise New Delhi to exercise restraint.

“She (Janjua) asked the US side to advise restraint to India and stop its escalation tactics,” said a statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Office after the meeting.

There was no official word from the US or Pakistan on Wells’ response on this issue. Wells’ visit was described by the Foreign Office as part of the regular engagement between the two sides on bilateral and regional cooperation.

Pakistani media have described the visit as an attempt by the US to mend fences following the damaging New Year’s day tweet by President Donald Trump threatening to cut off all aid. Trump had said the US got nothing but “lies and deceit” after providing $33 billion in aid since 2002.

Besides the tensions with India, Janjua also raised the use of Afghan soil by “elements hostile to Pakistan’s stability” and called for strengthening border management mechanisms between Pakistan and Afghanistan to addressing concerns related to cross-border movements.

First Published: Jan 16, 2018 18:47 IST