WASHINGTON: US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that the decision to suspend military aid to Pakistan was not taken lightly as the Trump administration was fully aware of the consequences of taking such an action against a nuclear weapons state.

In his address to a Washington think-tank — the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies — earlier this week, Mr Bolton also said that the US wanted Pakistan to cooperate fully in war against terrorism as “it’s a matter of extraordinary importance” to America.

“It was before my time, but the Trump administration did not take the decision to cancel a substantial part of the military aid package to Pakistan lightly,” he said.

“It was done knowing full well that Pakistan is a nuclear weapons state, and the risk that the government could fall into the hands of terrorists that would get control of those nuclear weapons was particularly serious.”

National security adviser says war against terrorism is a matter of extraordinary importance to America

In January, President Donald Trump suspended most of military aid to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of allowing the Taliban to use its territory for attacks in Afghanistan. Last week, the Pentagon urged Congress to allow it to use for other purpose the funds that had been set aside for Pakistan.

The re-allocation ended the possibility that the funds earmarked for Pakistan could be released if Islamabad agreed to take the required action against various terrorist groups.

But during his visit to Islamabad last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had pressed the new Pakistani government that it was still possible to “reset” the US-Pakistan relationship if Pakistan agreed to rein in the groups reportedly operating from its soil.

Mr Bolton said Secretary Pompeo wanted to convey the message that “we hoped and expected that Pakistan would cooperate fully in the war against terrorism, which they had committed to do.”

He said terrorism was “a serious threat” to the entire subcontinent but Pakistan needed to act against terrorists because it’s also a threat to its own existence.

He said terrorism was also “a matter of extraordinary importance for the United States” and that’s why it wanted the new Pakistani government to address it.

Mr Bolton said during his visit to Islamabad, Secretary Pompeo wanted to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan but could not.

Although a journalist reminded him that Mr Khan chaired the meeting between the US and Pakistani delegations, Mr Bolton did not correct himself.

This caused some to speculate that perhaps Mr Pompeo wanted a separate meeting with the prime minister.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2018

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