Tillerson’s Pak visit: To talk tough on terror safe havens

RSTV Bureau

Ahead of his maiden visit to Pakistan, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has indicated that he will firmly tell Islamabad to stop providing safe havens to terror groups on its soil to improve bilateral ties.

Tillerson is set to arrive in Islamabad on Tuesday. Just days ago he made a major policy speech on America’s growing strategic relations with India and US President Donald Trump’s move to offer a bigger say for India in war-torn Afghanistan.

Islamabad needed to “take a clear-eyed view of the situation that they are confronted with in terms of the number of terrorist organisations that find safe haven inside” the country, Tillerson told reporters in Kabul where he paid a surprise visit.

“We want to work closely (with) Pakistan to create a more stable and secure Pakistan as well.

“We have made some very specific requests of Pakistan in order for them to take action to undermine the support that the Taliban receives and the other terrorist organisations receive in Pakistan,” Tillerson told reporters travelling with him at the Bagaram Air Force base in Afghanistan.

File photo of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo - AP/PTI

File photo of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Photo – AP/PTI

The whole South Asia strategy of the Trump administration is conditions-based approach, he said.

“So, our relationship with Pakistan will also be conditions-based. It will be based upon whether they take action that we feel is necessary to move the process forward of both creating the opportunity for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan, but also ensuring a stable future Pakistan,” he said.

“In our conversations with Pakistani leadership, we’re as concerned about the future stability of Pakistan as we are in many respects here in Afghanistan,” the US Secretary of State added.

On the eve of his maiden visit here, Pakistani media reported that policymakers have put together an agenda for talks with Tillerson.

Tillerson is visiting Pakistan on the invitation of Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif.

Pakistani officials have prioritised the issues to be taken up with Tillerson which include the recent strain in Pak-US ties; US President Trump’s new Afghan strategy; Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process; and Pakistan’s reservations on India’s future role in Afghanistan, The Pakistan press reported.

(With inputs from PTI)