WASHINGTON: Pakistan released a new factsheet on its efforts to counter terrorism here on Friday night as an American scholar warned that US Vice President Mike Pence’s rhetoric against the country would not help the fight against militancy.
The factsheet re-emphasises Pakistan’s stance that the death of 122 children at a Peshawar school on Dec 16, 2014 has galvanised the entire nation against terrorism and the operations launched since then have targeted all terrorists without exception.
Marvin G. Weinbaum, a leading scholar of South Asian affairs in Washington, said at the launching ceremony that the factsheet “makes a strong case” about Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism. Pakistan, he said, arrived at this commitment not due to American pressure but because the Peshawar school attack “touched the national conscience”.
Urging the United States to understand this change in Pakistan’s approach, Mr Weinbaum said that Mr Pence’s statement about putting Pakistan on notice “does not help the fight against terrorism”.
In a speech in Kabul on Friday, Mr Pence claimed that Pakistan had provided safe haven to terrorists for too long but those days are over now, as President Donald Trump had “put Pakistan on notice”.
Pakistan reacted strongly to the statement, reminding Washington that “allies do not put each other on notice”.
Mr Weinbaum, while rejecting Mr Pence’s remarks as inappropriate and unhelpful, also emphasised the need for Pakistan to show the same commitment in fighting other terrorist groups that it displayed against the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
He said that recent activities of individuals like Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Khadim Rizvi were a threat to the Pakistani society and harmed the country’s image in the international community.
“After achieving a national consensus against TTP, Pakistan now has to take on other militant groups, as well, groups that are more dangerous and lethal,” he said.
Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2017