US Defence Secretary James Mattis asked Pakistan to “redouble” efforts to confront militants operating from its soil when he met Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday evening during his day-long visit to the country. But Mattis also acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism.
Mattis also met Minister of Defence Khurram Dastigir Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar.
“The secretary reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country…Mattis recognised Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism,” Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W White said after Mattis concluded his inaugural trip to Pakistan.
Mattis’ visit comes amid Washington’s concerns that Islamabad is not doing enough to dismantle terror safe havens. It also comes just days after 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed was released from house arrest. JuD chief Saeed, who has an American bounty of USD 10 million on his head, walked free on November 24 after a court ordered an end to his 10-month detention.
White also added Mattis emphasised the vital role that Pakistan can play in working with the US and others to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that brings stability and security to the region.
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,” said a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.
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.
Ahead of his visit, Mattis had 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.”
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.
(With inputs from agencies)