WASHINGTON: The United States wants Pakistan to continue supporting the Afghan peace process but also expects Islamabad to end its allegedly “unacceptable support” to militants, say two key US officials, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Assistant Secretary Alice G. Wells.
“Under President Trump, we’ve taken our defence cooperation to new heights … and taken a far tougher stand on Pakistan’s unacceptable support for terrorism in the region,” Secretary Pompeo told a gathering of mainly Indian-Americans in Washington on Wednesday.
“Our approach to Pakistan has focused largely on securing Islamabad’s support for the Afghan peace process and for Pakistan to follow through on its pledges to take sustained and irreversible actions against all militant groups operating from within its territory,” said Wells, who looks after South Asian affairs at the State Department.
Secretary Pompeo, who will visit India later this month, also addressed India’s hyper-sensitive approach in its dealings with China and Pakistan.
“We get it. We realise it’s different to deal with the likes of China and Pakistan from across the ocean than it is when they are on your borders,” he said.
Ms Wells outlined the administration’s priorities for Pakistan before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee for Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation, which began a hearing on Thursday on the State Department’s budget requests for the South and Central Asian regions.
“Our relationship with Pakistan remains one of our most complex and most consequential,” she said. “Our engagement with Pakistan on nonproliferation issues is also crucial. The United States and Pakistan both attach high importance to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”
The United States, she said, also remains concerned about Pakistan’s development of certain categories of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.
“On Afghanistan reconciliation, we recognise that Pakistan has taken steps to encourage Taliban participation in peace negotiations, which has been important to the progress we have made thus far,” she said.