04 Oct 2017/Wednesday
The United States in no uncertain terms has warned Pakistan and put it on notice by emphasising that Islamabad could lose its status as a privileged military ally if it continues giving safe haven to Afghan terror groups.
A day after President Donald Trump unveiled a new strategy for South Asia, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson upped the ante against Islamabad.
Trump had warned that Pakistan’s support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani extremist network would have consequences and Tillerson gave a glimpse of what’s in store for Pakistan if it fails to fall in line. Trump administration had taken note of Indian concern about the pan global terror groups which are conducting coordinated attacks on non believers and believers both. There has been an unprecedented increase in attacks on civilians across the globe for the past year.
“We have some leverage,” Tillerson told the media, as he explained Trump’s speech, “in terms of aid, their status as a non-NATO alliance partner — all of that can be put on the table.”
The Secretary of State’s stinging remarks come ahead of his meeting with Pakistani counterpart few days from now. As one of the 16 “Non-NATO major allies,” Pakistan benefits from billions of dollars in aid and has access to some advanced US military technology banned from other countries. This loss will really pinch the Pakistan Army and state sponsored terror agency ISI along with ISPR (Inter-Services Public Relations) the think tank behind the policy of using terror as a state instrument.
This year, the US has already withheld $350 million in military funding over concerns Pakistan is not doing enough to fight terror, but the alliance itself was not in question.
Last year, after India’s reservations, the US had cancelled sale of F-16 fighter jets to Islamabad. Tillerson said Washington wants to work with Pakistan as it expands its own support for Kabul in the battle against the Taliban, but warned it to close militant safe havens. US seems to be appreciating the work done by India security agencies against terror groups.
Pakistan’s critics in the US have also urged Trump to go further, by authorizing US strikes against terrorists inside Pakistan or declaring Pakistan a “state sponsor of terror”.
US officials have not yet described the type of measures which could lead to severe sanctions and legal threats to Pakistani officials, but Tillerson did not rule out strikes.
The US has hit targets within Pakistan before, most famously when Barack Obama ordered the US special forces to kill al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden. “The President has been clear that we are going to attack terrorists wherever they live,” Tillerson explained. There is growing belief in the American establishment that the Pakistani state sponsored terror groups are not only harming India a peace loving and fast developing country but also spreading venom across the globe.