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US to give Pakistan opportunity to act against terror groups: Tillerson

The US has increased pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terror groups operating from its soil as part of President Donald Trump’s new South Asia and Afghanistan policy.

world Updated: Nov 01, 2017 17:19 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pakistan-US relations,secretary of state Rex Tillerson,terrorism
File photo of US secretary of state Rex Tillerson speaking to staff members at the US mission to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 26, 2017. (Reuters)

Secretary of state Rex Tillerson has said Pakistan will be given an opportunity to prove that it will act on information provided by the US about terrorist groups operating on its soil.

The US has stepped up pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terror groups as part of President Donald Trump’s new South Asia and Afghanistan policy, and Tillerson had told Pakistan’s civil and military leadership to step up efforts to eradicate terrorists during his visit to Islamabad last month.

During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Monday night, Tillerson was asked by a lawmaker to share what he had heard from the Pakistanis during his visit to Islamabad.

“Pakistanis have indicated – if we provide them information they will act. We’re going to have to test that, give them an opportunity to do so,” Tillerson was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

“So, we are going to enter into an effort to have greater sharing of certain intelligence information.”

Senator John Barrasso, a Republican, referred to Trump’s new strategy for Afghanistan, a pillar of which was “to change the approach in how to deal with Pakistan”.

Barasso noted that Tillerson had talked about “setting certain expectations” for the Pakistan government and putting in place “a mechanism of cooperation through information-sharing and action” to counter terror groups. He also sought details of this proposed cooperation.

Tillerson said he could share “some broad contours” of his visit to Pakistan at a public hearing and was willing to sit with the senators for a closed hearing for further discussions.

“But the conversation with the Pakistani government is for them to recognise that they will be one of the greatest beneficiaries of a successful peace process in Afghanistan,” he said.

Tillerson pointed out Pakistan has two unstable borders with Afghanistan and India, and said the message he delivered in Islamabad was: “You have to begin to create greater stability inside your country and that means denying safe haven to any of these organisations that launch attacks from your territory.”

He hoped his visit would pave the way Pakistan views the Afghan situation. “Pakistan will find it in their interests to begin to disassociate these long-standing relationships that have developed over time with certain terrorist organisations,” he said.

Pakistan, he said, did have long-standing relations with the Haqqani Network and the Taliban, which might have served the purpose of stability in the past but didn’t do so any longer.

“And it’s up to Pakistan I think, to think about their longer-term stability and their future by changing that relationship with these organisations,” Tillerson said.

First Published: Nov 01, 2017 17:05 IST