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Better to stay engaged with Pakistan, says US

Updated Nov 20, 2016 08:05am

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WASHINGTON: Working with Pakistan is a better option for fighting terrorism in South Asia than declaring it a state sponsor of terrorism, says US State Department.

The statement follows a move in the US Congress for declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism because of its alleged links with certain militant groups.

Reports in the US media suggest that the incoming Trump administration is considering proposals to back the congressional move.

The issue was raised at the State Department news briefing on Friday afternoon as well where spokesman John Kirby said that the Obama administration, which would complete its second and final term in January, preferred to stay engaged with Pakistan because it believed this was a better way of fighting terrorism.

“We routinely discuss with our Pakistani counterparts the importance for continued focus and energy on the counterterrorism efforts and the terrorism threat,” he said.

The discussions with Pakistan, Mr Kirby added, focused on the need to combat the groups that were still engaging in terrorist activities. “Our focus on this and the focus that we want to see Pakistan expend on it, that’s not going to change,” he said.

Asked if the Obama administration would support the move in Congress and a signature campaign initiated by American citizens of Indian origin, Mr Kirby said: “I’m not going to get into a discussion about that.”

The State Department official said that while he would not speculate how the Trump administration would deal with the issue, he believed that the US “focus on the importance of regional, collaborative, and effective counterterrorism operations” would not change.

Mr Kirby also emphasised the need for countries in the South Asian region to pool their resources for combating terrorism, saying that the US “interest in seeing all the countries in the region … expend a great deal of energy and effort and leadership” in fighting this menace would not change either.

“I just can’t speculate about the future and I wouldn’t do that,” said the State Department official when asked how President-elect Donald Trump’s pre-election statements would affect his policies as president.

Mr Trump made numerous statements on Pakistan during the campaign but not all were negative and did not necessarily hint at a hostile shift in the US policy towards Islamabad under his administration.

In one statement, Mr Trump also hinted at playing the role of a “mediator or arbitrator” between India and Pakistan. “If it was necessary I would do that. If we could get India and Pakistan getting along, I would be honoured to do that. That would be a tremendous achievement… I think if they wanted me to, I would love to be the mediator or arbitrator,” he said in an interview with the Hindustan Times.

In an earlier statement he said that Pakistan was a vital country for the United States because it had nuclear weapons.

He told Fox News in May he would favour keeping nearly 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan “because it’s adjacent and right next to Pakistan which has nuclear weapons.”

Published in Dawn November 20th, 2016

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Comments (16) Closed



mojazze Nov 20, 2016 08:48am

Pakistan is continuing to suffer for participating Bush's war on terror. The terrorist have targeted civilians more than anyone and many innocent lives have been lost. Pakistan must make its own independent policies to fight terrorism rather than become a puppet for others. Do what is good for Pakistan first to fight terror through developing good progressive system of education and literacy for places where terrorism spawns due to bad education, rather than taking actions to please others through only a so called never ending war on terror.

Ahmed bin Babar Nov 20, 2016 09:48am

With so many potential tasks how these two state can afford to remain disengaged..?

Gem Khan Nov 20, 2016 11:19am

USA needs Pakistan. Period. That's why they take a lot of care while issuing any statement about Pakistan.

M.Ashraf. Choudhry Nov 20, 2016 11:20am

Disengage and terror comes to an end which USA can't afford.They will become isolated in World Politics.

Gem Khan Nov 20, 2016 11:21am

Trump will keep nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan to protect Pakistan nuclear assets. How funny. Lol.

UFO Nov 20, 2016 11:34am

How about a referendum in Pakistan to see if people of Pakistan want to stay in this uncomfortable and abusive 'engagement'?

Ilias from NL Nov 20, 2016 01:49pm

Pakistan should be engaged and align principally with Russia, China, Iran and nothing gonna be bumped with us politically any more for sure.

MA Nov 20, 2016 02:32pm

@mojazze Agreed

Naqeeb Nov 20, 2016 02:48pm

No need to get engaged anymore.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Nov 20, 2016 03:10pm

What other options do they have?

Ahmed Hassan Nov 20, 2016 04:50pm

We desperately need a Foreign minister as our foreign policy is in shambles. Why is our country always on the border of being declared a state sponsor of terrorism.??

Rou Nov 20, 2016 06:40pm

Pakistan is no longer interested in being bullied by US. We have found new interests somewhere else.

aslam shaikh1 Nov 20, 2016 10:49pm

Please don't stay engaged with us or our Politicians. Please focus on your new friend India.

Puthomadre, karachi Nov 21, 2016 03:51am

People are in denial, Govt. is in denial, the situation gets dire day by day.

Omar Nov 21, 2016 05:15am

The US cannot survive without Pakistan in the region. Pakistan has been staunch US ally since the 1950's and continues to remain so to this day. Those who are not aware of that such as these few rogue congressmen need to read up on history. Also, did they forget that all the US forces supplies are coming via Pakistan. If anything US needs to engage more with Pakistan and invest in its people more.

Ahmad Zubair Nov 21, 2016 07:47am

Better, Gen. Raheel Sharif who is the best fit, be appointed as Pakistan's full fledged Foreign Minister to stay engaged with our regional policies in the changing world scenarios.