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Asif in US, Pentagon leaders slam ISI for aiding terror

Asif in US, Pentagon leaders slam ISI for aiding terror

Oct 04, 2017 - 13:46

WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Hours before Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif landed in Washington on a three-day visit, the Pentagon slammed Pakistaninfo-icon for the continued existence of terrorist safe havens.

For the first time, senior Department of Defense  officials identified Inter-Services Intelligence (ISIinfo-icon) by name for having connections with terrorist groups.

“I think it's clear to me that the ISI has connections with terrorist groups,” Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a Congressional hearing on Afghanistaninfo-icon.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also hinted at ISI support to terrorists in his appearance before the Senate committee.  “We have seen havens left to the terrorists' own devices.

"We have seen the government of Pakistan come down on terrorism, while ISI appears to run its own foreign policy,” said the defense secretary, who was in Afghanistan and India last week.

Statements from the Pentagon leaders gain significance in view of the arrival of Kh. Asif in Washington later in the day to meet Secretary of State Tillerson on Wednesday morning and National Security Advisor HR McMaster a day later.

“All the issues of mutual interest will be discussed,” a spokesman for the Pakistan Embassy said.  On Thursday, Asif will deliver remarks at the US Institute of Peace, a Washington-based think-tank.

Testifying before the Senate Committee, both Mattis and Dunford said there could be no peace and stability in South Asia unless Pakistan took action against terrorist safe havens.

Bilateral engagement had not worked so far, the two leaders indicated, saying the international community including NATOinfo-icon countries might be roped in to exert pressure on Pakistan to change its behaviour.

“There's a great deal that Pakistan can benefit economically, diplomatically, financially for its government; economically for its people; by finally sensing that the tide has shifted against this,” Mattis observed.

Pakistan, Mattis said, had a “convoluted history” with terrorism. There could be little doubt that there had been terrorist groups having used Pakistan as a haven for attacks outwardly, and not just towards Afghanistan.

“We've seen the attacks on India, as well. At the same time, probably few nations, perhaps none, have lost as many troops fighting terrorists as they have,” he said.

“I believe that, by working with the regional allies and partners we have and working with our international partners, there's a way to bring a whole-of-government approach to this, to deal firmly with this, to try to move it back into a positive direction between the NATO allies and Pakistan and remove the safe havens," he added.


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