US asks Pakistan to expel terrorists from its soil

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Washington: The United States has asked Pakistan to expel terrorists, especially the Taliban leaders, operating from terror safe havens within its soil, a top Trump administration official today said.

“We’ve had a number of discussions with our Pakistani partners on expectations for change and expelling terrorists from areas in which they’ve been allowed to operate,” Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan.

He was responding to questions from lawmakers expressing concerns over Pakistan’s approach fighting terrorism.

“They (Pakistan) understand what we expect…Our suspension of security assistance continues until we see more evidence that they are in fact taking action,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the US has been in discussions with Pakistan but there has been not a “sufficient amount of action” from it against terrorists.

Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supported the South Asia Policy of the Trump administration.

“This administration has rightly drawn a clear line with Pakistan, suspending security assistance of over a USD billion as long as Islamabad continues to shelter Haqqani, and other terror groups that target innocent civilians, as well as the US and allied forces,” he said.

Corker had blocked the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan during the previous Obama administration.

He said this “pointed approach” is designed to confront Pakistan’s “duplicity” and its actions to provide safe harbour to the “greatest threat to our efforts in Afghanistan”.

Senator Ben Cardin, the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said such a policy might not work.

“We’ve tried it several times over the past 16 years. I have little confidence that such behavioural change is coming.

“The US is committed to doing our part to reduce tensions in the region in ways that address Pakistan’s legitimate concerns,” he said.

Sullivan said the US opposes the use of terrorist proxies by any country against another country anywhere in the world.

“The use of terrorism has no place in a rules-based international system. We hope the Pakistanis will also help to convince the Taliban to enter into a peace process,” he said.

Sullivan told lawmakers that it was the assessment of the US that Pakistan has not done enough to expel elements of the Taliban that have been operating in sanctuaries in Pakistan and easily able to cross the border into Afghanistan.

Pakistan, he said, certainly have the ability to urge the Taliban to do come to the peace talks.

“What we believe they do have the ability to do also is to expel them from sanctuaries in their country. They may not be able to actually drive them to the negotiating table, but they can help and they can eliminate sanctuaries in their country where they currently operate,” he said.

PTI