Washington, DC – Pakistan stays on the cross-wires of the Trump administration since the US suspended about two billion dollars in security aid to Islamabad for failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups and dismantle their safe havens.
Contrary to Pakistani media reports, Washington is not contemplating military action inside Pakistan, but seeking Islamabad’s cooperation and assistance in various operations under its new South Asia strategy, Lt Gen Kenneth F McKenzie said.
Addressing journalists at a news conference, McKenzie said, “We actually don’t contemplate military operations inside Pakistan. On the other hand, we recognize, because the strategy is inherently regional and Pakistan is geographically located at a critical nexus of a lot of different things, Pakistan is a fundamental part of the strategy.”
Pentagon Spokesperson Echoes
Echoing McKenzie’s sentiments, Pentagon’s Chief Spokesperson Dana White said, “It (Pakistan) has been a victim of terrorism, and it has supported terrorism. We are looking for Pakistan to actively join — it can do the things we need them to do to confront terrorism.” Urging Islamabad to cooperate, White said, “So it’s an inflection point, it’s an opportunity, and we hope Pakistan will take it.”
Noting that “The Taliban is desperate,” White refuted impression that there is connection between the recent attacks in Kabul and the American decision to suspend aid to Pakistan.
“They’re murderous and they attack innocent civilians. As the general said, these were flashy but it shows their disparity,” she said. “For every attack that’s carried out, many, many, many are stopped, many are prevented from occurring. So to think that you’re going to have exquisite timing on when an attack occurs is probably a bridge too far for the Taliban to have,” White said.
Post-SOTU (State of the Union) address, President Donald Trump reiterated his recent decision to freeze all security assistance to Pakistan, saying that countries cannot hope to be friends with America while supporting or condoning terror.
“The President has suspended security assistance to Pakistan, sending a long overdue message to aid recipients that we expect them to fully join us in combating terrorism,” the White House has said in a detailed fact sheet on his foreign policy, which was issued after his first State of the Union Address.
“President Trump’s conditions-based South Asia strategy provides commanders with the authority and resources needed to deny terrorists the safe haven they seek in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” it said.
President Trump in his inaugural tweet of 2018, accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven” to terrorists in return for $33 billion aid over the last 15 years.