ISLAMABAD: Repeating allegations about Haqqani network sanctuaries and shortcomings in Pakistani efforts to check illicit financing, senior US National Security official Lisa Curtis said on Tuesday the Trump administration wanted a “new relationship” with Islamabad.
“Ms Curtis urged the government of Pakistan to address the continuing presence of the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups within its territory, and reiterated the international community’s long-standing concern about ongoing deficiencies in Pakistan’s implementation of its anti-money laundering/counterterrorism finance regime,” the US Embassy said in a statement on her trip.
The message was conveyed by Ms Curtis, deputy assistant to President Trump and US National Security Council’s senior director for South and Central Asia, during her meetings with Pakistani interlocutors. The senior US official made a two-day visit to Islamabad during which she met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Chief of the General Staff Lt Gen Bilal Akbar.
Curiously Ms Curtis’ public message sharply contrasted the assessment shared by Centcom Commander Gen Joseph Votel at a hearing of the US House of Representatives in Washington on Tuesday, which was positive.
According to Reuters, Gen Votel said: “We are now beginning to see very positive indicators ... that they are moving in the right direction.” He cited unspecified Pakistani actions “on the ground”. He maintained that the actions did not “yet equal the decisive action that we would like to see them take in terms of a strategic shift, but they are positive indicators”.
The embassy said Ms Curtis talked about the Trump administration’s desire to move towards a “new relationship”. Sharing the vision about that “new relationship”, she said, it had to be based on the shared commitment to “defeat all terrorist groups that threaten regional stability and security as well as on a shared vision of a peaceful future for Afghanistan”.
Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2018