WASHINGTON: The United States has acknowledged that recently both civil and military leaders in Pakistan have taken steps to eliminate terrorism.
At a Wednesday afternoon news briefing, a senior US official told reporters that Washington did not want to get involved in Pakistan’s internal politics but it did expect the country’s civil and military leaders to correct the situation.
“We support the civilian government. We support the nascent democratic system there,” the official said.
“We support the fact that Prime Mister Imran Khan says right things and appears to be trying to make some changes within Pakistan,” he added. “But only time will tell if he is successful in doing that.”
The official noted that Pakistan’s military was also supporting these changes.
Official tells reporters Washington supports the nascent democratic system in Pakistan
“So far, we do see support from the military to the direction that prime minister Khan seems to be going in,” he said.
The senior administration official noted that Pakistan was not only saying the right things, it had also taken some right steps.
“So, we do appreciate that Pakistan is saying the right thing, has taken the initial steps that we’re looking for, but we reserve judgement because we have seen backtracking in the past,” he said.
The official noted that Prime Minister Khan was “very public about wanting stability in the region, pointing out how important that is for Pakistanis to prosper and to have economic development which is one of his core campaign promises”.
The Pakistani prime minister has directly related that goal to Pakistan being able to crack down on militancy within the border, the US official noted.
“So, we continue to remain hopeful and encouraged by the initial statements and some of the very initial steps that we have seen Pakistan taking.”
Referring to the UN designation of Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist”, the official said, “We think this designation is really critical and important for keeping Pakistan accountable to its commitment like the travel ban and asset freezes and other steps.”
In a separate statement, the White House National Security Council (NSC) claimed that Masood Azhar was also responsible for the Feb 14 suicide bombing in Pulwama, an Indian claim not endorsed by the United Nations.
“The United States commends the United Nations Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee for the designation of Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e Mohammed, a UN-designated terrorist group that was responsible for the February 14 terrorist attack in Kashmir that killed over 40 Indian paramilitary forces,” NSC spokesperson Garrett Marquis said.
The statement claimed that designating Azhar demonstrated “international commitment to rooting out terrorism in Pakistan and bringing security and stability to South Asia.”
The United States, Britain and France were the co-sponsors of a proposal that the UN sanctions committee endorsed on Wednesday by declaring Masood Azhar a global terrorist.
France too has issued a similar statement, claiming that Masood Azhar headed a terrorist group that was responsible for the Pulwama attack last February.
The French statement also recalled that France had adopted national sanctions against Masood Azhar on March 15.
In a tweet on Wednesday evening, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo congratulated the US team at the UN for their work in negotiating Masood Azhar’s UN designation as a terrorist. He said this long-awaited action was a victory for American diplomacy and the international community against terrorism, and an important step towards peace in South Asia.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2019