US urges Pakistan to act against Lashkar-e-Taiba, Fata safe havens

Updated October 30, 2015

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US State Department reminds Pakistan of its pledge to take effective action against Lashkar-e-Taiba.—AP/File
US State Department reminds Pakistan of its pledge to take effective action against Lashkar-e-Taiba.—AP/File

WASHINGTON: Less than a week after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the US capital, the United States has again said that terrorists still have safe havens in Fata.

At a news briefing in Washington, US State Department’s spokesperson John Kirby reminded Pakistan of its pledge to take effective action against Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“We know that the safe haven still exists along that border region, and we’ve been very plain about our concerns over those continued safe havens,” he said.

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During his four-day stay in Washington, the prime minister held a series of meetings with key US leaders and lawmakers, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.

After Mr Sharif’s departure, senior US officials told reporters that President Obama and other US leaders told him that the security situation in Afghanistan was serious and urged him to do more to stop cross-border attacks.

The issue was raised again at a State Department briefing when a reporter referred to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s recent interview in which he acknowledged the presence of certain militant outfits in Pakistan during his reign.

Mr Kirby said he would not like to “re-litigate the past” and instead would focus on the future, “a future … that can lead us all to a better outcome with respect to violent extremism”.

He said the United States would like to build up a relationship with Pakistan which could “deepen and grow and strengthen” the fight against extremists.

Mr Kirby also said that the United States shared a concern with Pakistan about violent extremism in that part of the world.“We’re mindful that Pakistan itself and the Pakistani people continue to fall victim to terrorism,” he said. “Not only lost civilians there, they’ve lost soldiers. It’s a serious threat, and we know that they take it seriously.”

The US official said that the Pakistanis knew they were facing serious threats and they also knew how important it was to deal with those threats.

The US has had a “complicated relationship” with Pakistan but still wanted this relationship to grow stronger, he added.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2015

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