US may sanction Pak officials with terror links

RSTV Bureau
File photo of White House building in Washington D.C.

File photo of White House building in Washington D.C.

President Donald Trump has put Pakistan on “notice” and his get-tough approach could include sanctioning Pakistani officials with ties to terrorist groups such as Haqqani Network, a top White House official has said.

The official also said that with Pakistan the “business as usual as it has been up to now is over.”

“The important takeaway for the Pakistani government is that, you know, they should understand that they’re on notice from this president, from this administration,” the official was quoted as saying by Politico yesterday.

“The US has been really patient with Pakistan for a really long time. We haven’t been getting a good deal from them,” he added.

He said the US could conceivably impose sanctions on terrorist groups including the Haqqani network, which has links to elements in the Pakistani government, as well as on any Pakistani officials who are tied to these kinds of groups.

The Haqqani network, blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people, has also carried out a number of kidnappings and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan.

The White House official said that the onus for improving the relationship is now on Pakistan.

He said the president had benefited from an outsider’s perspective on the US-Pakistan relationship, eschewing the conventional wisdom that “however much the Pakistanis double-deal you and lie to you and don’t cooperate, you have no choice but to just keep the status quo.”

“How do we get the Pakistan to behave better? The answer is we have leverage points over Pakistan that the strategy contemplates we will use. Ultimately whether they behave better or not is completely up to them,” he said.

“They may calculate that it’s more important to remain allied with terrorists, it’s more important to give terrorists safe haven, it’s more important to do all the nasty things that they have been doing that we don’t like than it is to have a good relationship with the US,” he continued.

“If so, that’s a choice that they will make and then we will make choices based on their choice,” he said.

Observing that the US gives the Pakistani government substantial security aid, the official said, and in return receive, at best, “indifference to border crossing and terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries” in Pakistan’s tribal regions along the Afghan border.

“In the worst case,” he said, the Pakistani government has been guilty of “active direct support” for terrorist groups, the media outlet reported.