US to press Pakistan for shift in Afghan policy: official

Published October 19, 2018
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi shakes hands with Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani. — Photo/File
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi shakes hands with Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani. — Photo/File

WASHINGTON: While calling recent meetings between United States officials and the new Pakistani government useful, acting Deputy Secretary of State Henry Ensher said the US would continue to apply pressure to Pakistan until Islamabad changed its policy towards regional peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“There is truth to the idea that we are applying pressure to Pakistan, and it is an important component of our policy,” said Mr Ensher while speaking at a seminar organised by a think-tank called Indus at the Wilson Centre, Washington.

The US official said the pressure “should not disguise the fact that we genuinely believe that a shift in Pakistani policy in line with our strategy, the South Asia Strategy, is very much in Pakistan’s own interest as well".

Mr Ensher argued that the status quo in Afghanistan did not serve Pakistan’s interest, as groups such as the ISIS posed a threat to both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Referring to Islamabad’s complaint that the Afghan territory was often used for launching attacks into Pakistan, the official said: “The greater the instability in Afghanistan, the more the Pakistani-Taliban TTP can use Afghanistan’s territory as a platform for [carrying out] attacks in Pakistan.”

The second most serious concern for US policy makers, according to him, is Pakistan’s strategic weapons.

He said the Trump administration had expressed its concern about Pakistan’s development of long- and short-range missile launch capabilities and its growing nuclear stockpile.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2018

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