US Defence Secretary James Mattis Monday met the top Pakistani leadership here and reviewed the current state of bilateral ties and the war on terror, amid Washington’s concerns that Islamabad was not doing enough to dismantle terror safe havens on its soil.
Mattis held a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi after arriving here on his maiden tour to Pakistan to explore ways to effectively eliminate the threat of militancy, days after 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed was released from house arrest.
Abbasi said Pakistan, in its national interest, would continue to conduct intelligence-based operations all over the country to consolidate the gains achieved in the last four years.
“The prime minister reiterated that there are no safe havens in Pakistan and the entire nation was committed to its resolve on eradicating terrorism once and for all in all its forms and manifestations,” according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office here.
Abbasi said no other country benefits more from peace and stability in Afghanistan than Pakistan.
He agreed with Mattis that both Pakistan and the US have common stakes in securing peace and security in Afghanistan for the long term stability of the broader region.
He also appreciated the US resolve not to allow the use of Afghan soil against Pakistan.
Recalling the longstanding relationship with the US, he underlined the need for a broad-based engagement to strengthen partnership and enhance cooperation between the two countries.
Mattis stated that the “purpose of his visit was to find common grounds in order to create a positive, consistent and long-term relationship with Pakistan,” the statement said.
He underscored the importance of continuing and deepening cooperation for the common objective of eliminating terrorism from the region.
Mattis also met Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Relations between the US and Pakistan plummeted after President Donald Trump announced his new Afghan policy in August and directly blamed Islamabad for supporting the Taliban and the Haqqani network.
“We have heard from Pakistani leaders that they do not support terrorism. So I expect to see that sort of action reflected in their policies,” Mattis said ahead of his trip.