Pompeo said that Mattis on his visit today will ask Pakistan nicely, first. He said the defense secretary will deliver US President Donald Trump‘s message to Pakistan that he’s very serious about tackling terror safe havens.
“In the absence of the Pakistanis achieving that, we are going to do everything we can to make sure that that safe haven no longer exists,” said Pompeo during an event at the Reagan National Defence Forum in Simi, California, on Saturday.
Oddly, Mattis himself took a less confrontational approach. He said he wouldn’t “prod” Pakistan because he expects it to keep its promise that it will act against harbouring terrorists.
“That’s not the way I deal with issues. I believe that we [can] work hard on finding common ground and then we work together,” said Mattis to reporters en route to Pakistan, according to VOA.
Mattis arrives in Islamabad today where he’s expected to hold talks with senior Pakistani military and government leaders on the country’s role in the Afghan reconciliation process, regional security and other bilateral issues.
The US has been saying for years that Pakistan is shielding the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, which carried out terror attacks in Afghanistan against the Afghan people as well as US soldiers. In August this year, in a fire and brimstone speech, Trump accused Pakistan of sheltering terror groups that try to kill Americans and warned that the US will cut off aid if it doesn’t take necessary action.
“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars but at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately,” said Trump in an address on August 21.
‘Pak has taken no action’
Since then, Pakistan has done absolutely nothing, say senior officials in the Trump administration as well as people on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Just last week, the commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan said the Taliban is “living in comfort in Pakistan with plenty of drug money”.
What’s more, the commander said Pakistan has yet to take significant action against the Taliban, despite it having been over 100 days since Trump’s demand that Islamabad needs to do more in the war on terror instead of providing “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror”.
“We have not seen those changes implemented yet…They (Pakistan) identified certain steps that they were going to take. We’ve not yet seen those steps play out…in terms of changes thus far this year, again, (Trump’s) policy was announced August 21, it’s now a hundred days late,” said US General John Nicholson, the commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan last week.
The General said Pakistan has been told about these sanctuaries many times before, to no avail.
“The offensive operations against sanctuaries would be in other areas that we’ve identified with the Pakistani leadership on a number of occasions,” he said.
Meanwhile, a senior Trump administration official also said the US is not satisfied with Pakistan’s cooperation in the war against terror and has yet to see Islamabad taking steps to “rein in” the Taliban and the Haqqani network, PTI news agency reported yesterday.
“…we have not yet seen any significant changes. We still remain hopeful. And we recognise that some of these changes take a bit of time and wouldn’t necessarily occur overnight. But we will expect to see these changes within a certain time-frame. Our patience is not unlimited when it comes to the steps that we expect them to take,” the official said.