Posts Tagged ‘tribal areas’

US says UN must do more to pressue Pakistan — “Kabul government wants world powers to step up pressure on Pakistan”

January 17, 2018

AFP

© UNITED NATIONS/AFP/File | Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, is seen in this handout photograph shaking hand with Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah (C) during a UN Security Council visit to Kabul that ended January 15

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) – Returning from a UN Security Council visit to Afghanistan, US Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday stressed the Kabul government wants world powers to step up pressure on Pakistan.Haley joined the 14 other council envoys for talks with top Afghan leaders in Kabul at the weekend as the government considers holding peace talks with the Taliban to end decades of insurgency.

“They feel confident that the Taliban will be coming to the table,” Haley told reporters at UN headquarters.

While the peace talks will be Afghan-led, the Kabul government did request that the Security Council weigh in to bring Pakistan onboard.

“They did ask us for consensus to put further pressure on Pakistan to come to the table and change their behavior,” Haley said.

The Afghan government is making strides towards stability, she said, and “continue to make ten steps forward and with Pakistan they feel like they continue to take steps backward.”

“As long as they are supporting terrorism in Pakistan, the Afghan community is continuing to feel it is not safe,” she said.

Haley did not specify what measures could be taken to pressure Pakistan, but the council does have the power to impose sanctions.

Pakistan has long been accused of supporting the Taliban and various militant groups in Afghanistan — charges it denies.

President Donald Trump has frozen US payments of military aid to Pakistan, worth $900 million, saying Pakistan is not doing enough to target Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani guerilla group.

A question mark also hangs over a further $1 billion of US military equipment for Pakistan.

US officials believe that Pakistan’s intelligence agency and military have long helped fund and arm the Taliban to counter rising Indian influence in Afghanistan, whose government is backed by the US.

The Afghan government also requested council help to address narcotics production and trafficking, looking at “every country that moves them,” said Haley.

The council visit – the first since 2010 – comes as the government holds a conference next month to present its strategy for reaching a settlement with armed groups.

Kazakhstan’s Ambassador Kairat Umarov, who led the council trip, said parliamentary elections must take place this year and be transparent “to ensure the credibility of the government” and “prevent further destabilization.”

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Pakistan army chief says nation felt “betrayed” at U.S. criticism

January 12, 2018

Reuters

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s army chief told a top U.S. general the nation “felt betrayed” at criticism that it was not doing enough to fight terrorism, the military said on Friday, after U.S. President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit”.

 Image result for General Qamar Javed Bajwa, photos

Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Pakistan’s army said in a statement that U.S. Central Command chief General Joseph Votel told General Qamar Javed Bajwa the United States was not contemplating any unilateral action inside Pakistan.

“(Bajwa) said that entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed over U.S. recent statements despite decades of cooperation,” the army said, referring to a conversation between Bajwa and Votel.

Ties between the United States and Pakistan worsened after Trump on Jan. 1 tweeted that Washington has got nothing but “lies and deceit” from Pakistan despite sending billions of dollars in aid.

Reporting by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Hard to tell how US aid suspension will affect ties with Pakistan — But Pakistan is unlikely to change its strategic calculus in Afghanistan

January 5, 2018

By Nirmal Ghosh
The Straits Times
January 5, 2018

The US government has decided to suspend aid to Pakistan but it remains unclear if the move will change the close but prickly relationship between the two countries.

While American annoyance with its ally is not new, President Donald Trump had “opened an entirely new bargaining space, which is an unexpected positive,” Dr Christine Fair, South Asia expert and Associate Professor at Georgetown University, told The Straits Times.

Pakistan is unlikely to change its strategic calculus in Afghanistan, she added.

“Pakistan is not going to give up (its support for) the Afghan Taleban over this money,” Dr Fair said.

Mr Uzair Younus, director, South Asia at the consultancy Albright Stonebridge Group, said forthcoming polls in Pakistan would have a bearing on its response.

He told The Straits Times : “With elections coming up (in July), the (Pakistan) government will not want to be seen as succumbing to US demands for a few hundred million dollars which, if the need arises, Islamabad could receive from its strategic ally, China.”

Members of the First Battalion, 87th Infantry, tending to a wounded comrade in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert, said on Thursday the US would suspend military aid until Pakistan took “decisive action” against groups like the Taleban that were are”destabilising the region and targeting US personnel.”

Reuters news agency, quoting US officials, said at least US$900 million (S$1.19 billion) in security assistance would be affected.

The relationship between the US and Pakistan is riven with contradictions. Sixteen years after invading Afghanistan to drive the Taleban out of power in retaliation for their harbouring of Osama bin Laden, who masterminded the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre, the US is still in Afghanistan, fighting a resurgent Taleban whose fighters find refuge across the border in Pakistan.

If the US withdraws from Afghanistan, the Taleban which controls a sizable chunk of territory may well seize power again in Kabul.

Elements in the Pakistani security establishment see the Taleban as a foil against India which backs the current government in Kabul.

The US pays Pakistan for, among other things, the use of its territory and facilities and air space in pursuit of its military operationsin Afghanistan.

The Trump administration, with its focus on getting more for its money abroad, may be taking a harder line.

“Pakistan has played a double game for years,” Ms Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said on Jan 2. “They work with us at times, and they also harbour the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan. That game is not acceptable to this administration.”

On Wednesday, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador, Ms Maleeha Lodhi, rejected the accusations.

She said: “We have contributed and sacrificed the most in fighting international terrorism and carried out the largest counter-terrorism operation anywhere in the world. We can review our cooperation if it is not appreciated.”

Dr Fair told The Straits Times that a bigger question was whether the US had thought through what it would do if Pakistan cut off ground and air access for US supplies to Afghan government forces.

Security experts told The Straits Times that would reduce the US options.

The US cannot use the next best option logistically – Iran’s Chabahar port – because of the hostile relationship between the two countries. And an alternative route from Central Asia, would be vulnerable to the reach of Russia.

nirmal@sph.com.sg

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/hard-to-tell-how-us-aid-suspension-will-affect-ties-with-pakistan

Trump administration to announce cuts in ‘security assistance’ for Pakistan

January 4, 2018

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been informing members of Congress that it will announce as soon as Wednesday plans to cut off “security assistance” to Pakistan, congressional aides said on Wednesday, a day after the White House warned Islamabad it would have to do more to maintain U.S. aid.

 

Aides in two congressional offices said the State Department called on Wednesday to inform them that it would announce on Wednesday or Thursday that aid was being cut off, although it was not clear how much, what type or for how long.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declined to say whether an announcement was imminent. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The calls to Capitol Hill came a day after Washington accused Pakistan of playing a “double game” on fighting terrorism and warned Islamabad it would have to do more if it wanted to maintain U.S. aid.

Pakistan-US war of words over Donald Trump's tweet

Ties between Pakistan and the US have deteriorated recently [File: Alex Brandon/AFP/Getty]

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that Washington would withhold $255 million in assistance to Pakistan. Her statement followed an angry tweet from Trump on Monday that the United States had been rewarded with “nothing but lies and deceit” for giving Pakistan billions in aid.

Pakistan civilian and military chiefs rejected what they termed “incomprehensible” U.S. comments and summoned U.S. Ambassador David Hale to explain Trump’s tweet.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have been strained for years over Islamabad’s alleged support for Haqqani network militants, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban.

The United States also alleges that senior Afghan Taliban commanders live on Pakistani soil and has signaled it will cut aid and take other steps if Islamabad does not stop helping or turning a blind eye to Haqqani militants crossing the border to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

Many members of the U.S. Congress, particularly Republicans, who control both houses of the legislature, have been critical of the Pakistani government and called for cuts in military and other aid.

Trump’s censure of Pakistan no surprise, but relations hang in the balance — and Pakistan’s future hinges on China

January 3, 2018

By Nirmal Ghosh
The Straits Times
January 3, 2017

WASHINGTON – The United States slashing aid to Pakistan, amid public chastisement by President Donald Trump, has rattled relations between the two countries.

While Mr Trump’s Twitter tongue-lashing has left pundits perturbed and Pakistan insulted and angry – but India and Afghanistan delighted – the US move is not unexpected.

It was signalled months ago in August when President Trump, in announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy, had said: “Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror.”

That same month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had suggested: “We have some leverage in terms of aid, their status as a non-Nato alliance partner – all of that can be put on the table.”

Defence Secretary James Mattis had also travelled to Pakistan in the interim, and would likely have delivered ultimatums in not so public a manner.

“These messages have been continuously delivered, the solution is not necessarily to augment the volume but to follow through,” Dr Sameer Lalwani, senior associate and co-director of South Asia at the Stimson Centre in Washington, told The Straits Times.

“The Trump administration is following through on what was essentially the Obama (administration’s) policy in its last two years,” Dr Lalwani said.

But he added: “The rhetoric accompanying it is relatively new and is particularly unhelpful.”

He said: “You can have subtle pressure that sends the right signals (but) when you publicise it… and (make) blanket statements like Pakistan has been of no help whatsoever, that’s when you trigger a lot of reaction in Pakistan that could actually undermine the objective.

“Instead of triggering introspection and a rethink of policy, you can trigger a rally around the flag.”

Speaking to reporters in New York on Tuesday (Jan 2), US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned that the President was “willing to go to great lengths” to get Pakistan to stop harbouring terrorists who targeted US troops in Afghanistan.

Analysts are now waiting for more specifics – and for what Pakistan may do in response.

Before the US can send security aid to Pakistan, it must certify that Pakistan is cracking down on militant groups. The Obama administration used to invoke a national security waiver that allowed it to avoid the certification process.

The Trump administration clearly is not playing that game, Mr Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Centre, said in an e-mail to The Straits Times.

Given the anger in Pakistan, if Islamabad retaliates by cutting off the Nato supply route from Karachi to Afghanistan, it could be a game changer for the US-Pakistan relationship and for the war in Afghanistan – currently the longest ever US war.

But Pakistan may not go that far, analysts say. And even if it does, the US has also been exploring alternative, though more expensive routes, and could fly in supplies or send them via central Asia.

In the longer term though, an estrangement with the US would likely drive Pakistan deeper into the arms of China – even if Beijing is also concerned about the influence of radical Islamic militant groups.

“China is a winner given that Pakistan will grow even more dependent on Beijing, and will be even more likely than it already is to help the Chinese pursue their objectives in Pakistan,” Mr Kugelman wrote.

One of Beijing’s key objectives is to develop the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) project linking Asia and Europe via a nexus of land and maritime highways.

With China committed to up to US$62 billion (S$82.5 billion) worth of investment in Pakistan, Washington’s economic leverage, while still significant, is little competition, some analysts say.

“Pakistan is already a major ally of China’s,” Dr Bharath Gopalaswamy, director of the South Asia Centre of the Atlantic Council, said. “Economically and security-wise, Pakistan’s future hinges on China.”

http://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/trumps-censure-of-pakistan-no-surprise-but-relations-hang-in-the-balance

Pakistan summons US ambassador over Trump tweet

January 2, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File | US President Donald Trump used his first tweet of 2018 to tear into Islamabad, alleging that it provided safe havens for militants

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador, an embassy spokesman said Tuesday, a rare public rebuke after Donald Trump lashed out at Islamabad with threats to cut aid over “lies” about militancy.Ambassador David Hale was asked to go to the foreign office in the Pakistani capital on Monday night, after Islamabad responded angrily to the US President’s allegations that it provided safe havens for militants in the latest spat to rock their alliance.

A US embassy spokesman confirmed Hale met officials, but added: “We don’t have any comment on the substance of the meeting.”

There was no immediate response from foreign office officials.

Trump used his first tweet of 2018 to tear into Islamabad.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump said in the early-morning New Year’s Day tweet.

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Pakistan hit back swiftly, saying it had done much for the United States, helping it to “decimate” Al-Qaeda, while getting only “invective & mistrust” in return in angry comments from its foreign and defence ministers.

Islamabad has repeatedly denied the accusations of turning a blind eye to militancy, lambasting the United States for ignoring the thousands who have been killed on its soil and the billions spent fighting extremists.

After the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States, Washington forged a strategic alliance with Islamabad to help in its fight against militancy.

But US leaders have often complained that Pakistan, long accused by Washington and Kabul of supporting the Taliban, has done too little to help.

Of foremost concern is Islamabad’s attitude toward the powerful Haqqani network, whose leader Sirajuddin Haqqani is the deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban.

The group is accused of some of the most lethal attacks on US forces in Afghanistan, and was dubbed by America’s former top military officer Mike Mullen as a “veritable arm” of Pakistani intelligence.

For many years it found safe haven in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous northwestern tribal areas.

However the Pakistani military launched an operation there in 2014, and now insists it has eradicated all safe havens in the country.

US-Pakistani ties, long contentious, have taken a nosedive under Trump, who first signaled that the Washington was reassessing the fractious relationship in August, when he accused Islamabad of harboring “agents of chaos.”

The remarks triggered a series of high-level diplomatic meetings in the US and Pakistan, but Islamabad has given few signs of concessions.

The Trump administration told Congress in August it was weighing whether to withhold $255 million in earmarked aid to Islamabad over its failure to crack down more effectively on terror groups in Pakistan.

Related:

Afghanistan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif at a press conference for the 1st China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue held in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017. (Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)

Trump threatens to cut Pakistan aid — “President Trump has put Pakistan on notice.” — But Pakistan says doesn’t need U.S. aid — Pak Now Allied With China, Russia

January 1, 2018

In this file photo, President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before leaving the White House in Washington on Oct. 7, 2017. (AP)

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump suggested Monday he would cut off foreign aid to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of harboring violent extremists and lying about it.

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“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump said in his first tweet of 2018.
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“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!“
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Last week, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration was seriously weighing whether to withhold $255 million in already delayed aid to Islamabad over its failure to better crack down on terror groups in Pakistan.
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US-Pakistani ties have taken a nosedive under Trump, who in August declared that “Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror.”
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Earlier this month, Trump had already hinted that he may cut off the aid for good.
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“We make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help,” he said in unveiling his national security strategy.
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And last week, Vice President Mike Pence told American troops during a visit to Afghanistan: “President Trump has put Pakistan on notice.”
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‘No more’: US has foolishly given Pakistan aid, says Trump
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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that the United States had foolishly given Pakistan over $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years.

In his tweet, Trump accused Pakistan of given nothing but lies and deceit thinking US leaders to be fools. “They give safe havens to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!

‘Will let the world know truth’

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, in a reply to the US president’s tweet, said Pakistan will let the world know the truth and will be responding to Trump’s tweet.

He added that there is a difference between facts and fiction.

We will respond to President Trump’s tweet shortly inshallah…Will let the world know the truth..difference between facts & fiction..

‘Pakistan has done enough, time for Afghanistan and US to do more’

In a news conference held on 28 December, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR), Major General Asif Ghaffor stated no organised infrastructure of a terrorist organisation exists in Pakistan. His statement was in reference to the unfounded talk by the US and Afghanistan on the presence of terrorist bases in Pakistan.

“We have been saying that Pakistan has fought twice an imposed and imported war inside Pakistan. We have sacrificed a lot. We have paid a huge price both in blood and treasure. We have done enough and we cannot do any more for anyone. Whatever we are doing and shall, will only be done for Pakistan.”

The spokesperson clarified that the Coalition Support Fund, received from the US, is reimbursement of money spent for operations in support of the coalition for regional peace.

“Had we not supported, al-Qaeda would not have been defeated,” the ISPR chief stated.

Commenting on blaming Pakistan for inaction against the Haqqani Network, Ghafoor said: “Blame for inaction against [the] Haqqani Network might have been relevant owing to our capacity issues till Zarb-e-Azb”.

However, he added, the Army went into North Waziristan indiscriminately and took action against the Haqqani Network as well. “The effect of any operation does not appear at that time. What we do today or this year, the impact will be felt in subsequent years and months.”

He further said that if there any facilitators or abettors inside Pakistan that can only be addressed if 2.7 million Afghan refugees are sent back to Afghanistan for which pull factors needed to be created by Kabul and Washington.

Trump puts Pakistan on ‘notice’

US Vice President Mike Pence, during an unannounced trip to Afghanistan, said; “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our efforts in Afghanistan. The days to shelter terrorists have gone. It has much to lose by continuing to harbour terrorists.”

US President Trump has put Pakistan on notice, says Pence on Afghanistan visit

He said President Trump has “put Pakistan on notice for providing safe haven” to the terrorists on its soil.

“For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organisations, but those days are over.. President Trump has put Pakistan on notice,” Pence told American troops at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/174811-us-has-foolishly-given-pakistan-aid-no-more-says-trump

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Khawaja Asif hints at foreign policy shift from US towards China, Russia

December 05, 2017

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday said Pakistan’s foreign policy has for long remained US-centric, however, the time had come to review the policy and shift its focus towards Russia and China.

The foreign minister highlighted the possibility of a policy shift and said revisiting the Islamabad’s policy was the need of the hour. The minister hinted at an inclination towards the left block of the world, saying “China lives next to us and we have a common wall. Russia can also be our good friend.”

Asif said this while addressing a seminar hosted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in the federal capital.

“We can’t have an independent foreign policy until we are economically strong,” the minister maintained.

Asif said the US has been Pakistan’s biggest trade partner. “We have to convert our diplomatic outpost to trade outpost,” he said, adding that Islamabad must improve and correct its relationships.

Peace in Afghanistan is extremely important for us, he said, adding that the US will have to see relations with Islamabad without the prism of Afghanistan. “We [Pakistan and the US] have a historic and robust relationship.”

Further talking about Afghanistan, the minister said Islamabad wants to live peacefully with all its neighbours and rest of the world. “We want peace in Afghanistan. The Afghan war was a liability for Pakistan. We are still suffering very badly from the Afghan war,” he added.

The minister, however, expressed hope and said: “We are trying to manage the situation and to turn the debris into hope.” He elaborated that the debris includes religious radicalism and said the nation was facing its consequences.

“There is no end in sight,” he said, adding that despite past mistakes the country was moving on. “We are looking for peace and harmonisation in the region,” he maintained.

Some of our neighbours had expressed reservations on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) but we have a different perspective as we do believe that its a game changer project for the entire region, Asif added.

“We avoid conflict and maintain a policy of neutrality in relations with Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

We share a long border with Iran and we have a common wall, culture, and language with Afghanistan, the minister said, but deplored the fact that Pakistan was “facing terrorism from the eastern and western borders”.

We have direct and more stakes in Afghanistan’s peace than any other country, he maintained.

We will also have to put our house in order, he said while referring to the Faizabad interchange sit-in. “It was not a good example,” Asif accepted.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1374715

Pakistan warns US against unilateral military action

December 29, 2017

Al Jazeera

Image may contain: one or more people, night and outdoor

A military spokesman said that Pakistan would continue to fight armed groups in the region in Pakistan’s self-interest, rather than at the behest of other countries [File: Naseer Ahmed/Reuters]

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s military has warned the United States against the possibility of taking unilateral action against armed groups on its soil, in its strongest response yet to tensions between the two allies.

Speaking to journalists in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Thursday, Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor rejected the notion that Pakistan is not doing enough to fight armed groups.

“We have sacrificed a lot. We have paid a huge price both in blood and treasure,” Ghafoor said. “We have done enough and we cannot do any more for anyone.”

He said Pakistan would continue to fight armed groups in the region in Pakistan’s self-interest, rather than at the behest of other countries.

“Had we not supported [the US], al-Qaeda would not have been defeated,” he said.

Since 2007, Pakistan has been battling armed groups, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), al-Qaeda and their allies, who have been seeking to impose a strict version of Islam on the country. The military has launched multiple military operations to regain territory where the groups’ fighters once held sway.

Violence has dropped since the launch of the latest operation in 2014, but sporadic, high-casualty attacks continue to occur. Earlier this month, at least nine people were killed in a suicide bombing on a church in the southwestern city of Quetta.

The US has often called on Pakistan to “do more” in its fight against armed groups, accusing it of selectively targeting armed groups and not taking action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, both of whom target US and Afghan forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.

US criticism

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson repeated the call for Pakistan to take on groups allegedly offered safe haven on its soil.

“We are prepared to partner with Pakistan to defeat terrorist organisations seeking safe havens, but Pakistan must demonstrate its desire to partner with us,” he wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times.

Tillerson’s message echoed US President Donald Trump’s words when he announced a new South Asia strategy in August, singling out Pakistan for criticism. Since then, a series of high-level contacts between the two governments have taken place, although no breakthrough achievements have been announced.

During his press conference on Thursday, Ghafoor linked the difficulty of acting against armed groups such as the Haqqani Network to the number of Afghan refugees resident in Pakistan.

The country is home to more than 2.7 million Afghan refugees, by the military’s figures, many of whom have lived in Pakistan for more than three decades.

Follow Asad Hashim on Twitter: @AsadHashim

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/pakistan-warns-unilateral-military-action-171229063851063.html

Suspected U.S. drone kills militants on Pakistan-Afghan border

December 26, 2017

Reuters

PARACHINAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – A suspected U.S. drone attack along the Pakistani-Afghan border killed an Islamist militant commander and one of his associates on Tuesday, a Pakistani official in the remote area said.

It was not immediately clear whether the missile struck on the Afghan or Pakistani side or the border.

There have been multiple unverified U.S. drone strikes in the mountainous border region separating Pakistan’s Kurram Agency from Afghanistan since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January.

Trump has taken a hardline stance on Pakistan, which he says provides safe haven to terrorists including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network carrying out attacks in Afghanistan.

Tuesday’s suspected drone attack targeted the vehicle of a militant commander named Jamiuddin, said a Pakistani official in the area, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another witness reported seeing the strike near the Mata Sanghar area of Kurram agency, across from the Afghan province of Paktia.

“I saw two missiles hit the vehicle and the people inside were killed,” said witness Rehmanullah.

The local official said it was unclear which side of the border the attack took place, but authorities were investigating.

More aggressive drone strikes that hit inside Pakistani territory are one of the steps that U.S. officials have said could be taken if Islamabad does not end safe havens for militants.

Pakistan has sought to downplay several recent drone strikes inside the border, with officials saying they were on the Afghan side even though local residents said they were in Pakistan.

In October, three suspected strikes in two days killed 31 people who officials said belonged to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, allied to the Taliban.

Those attacks came days after a Canadian-American couple held hostage by the Taliban were freed from the area in Pakistan’s northwest, striking a rare positive note in the country’s often-fraught relations with the United States.

Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Nick Macfie

Pakistan hits back after harshest US warning, drags India in its retort

December 23, 2017

Pakistan’s Foreign Office has released a statement objecting to the language used by US Vice-President Mike Pence that Donald Trump has put Islamabad on notice on terror havens including Taliban and Haqqani network.

New Delhi, December 22, 2017 | UPDATED 23:21 IST
US Vice-President Mike PenceUS Vice-President Mike Pence

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 1
    Pence said that Trump has put Pakistan on notice on terror havens including Taliban and Haqqani network.
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    Reacting on Pence’s remarks, Pakistan said that “allies do not put each other on notice”.
  • 3
    Pakistan is also peeved at US putting India in a pivotal position in its new Afghanistan strategy.

Pakistan has hit back after the harshest warning from the US on terror havens in the country. Its Foreign Office has released a statement objecting to the language used by US Vice-President Mike Pence that President Donald Trump has put Pakistan on notice on terror havens including Taliban and Haqqani network.

The statement released by the spokesperson of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign said the comments made by Pence were “at variance with the extensive conversations Pakistan has had with the US administration” on the issue.

Earlier in the day, US Vice-President Pence, while making a surprise visit to the Bagram Airfield, the largest US military base in Afghanistan, had bluntly warned Pakistan that it could no longer escape the writing on the wall that either act on terror havens on your land or face the wrath of Donald Trump, “For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organisations, but those days are over as President Trump has put Pakistan on notice.”

Reacting on Pence’s remarks, the statement from Pakistan further said that “allies do not put each other on notice” adding that “on notice should be those factors responsible for exponential increase in drug production, expansion of ungoverned spaces, industrial scale corruption, breakdown of governance and letting Daesh (ISIS) gain a foothold in Afghanistan.”

Pakistan is also peeved at US putting India in a pivotal position in its new Afghanistan strategy that Donald Trump revealed in August.

Pakistan has time and again ranted about that it cannot accept an increased Indian role in Afghanistan and today’s remarks by Pence again gave it a chance to vent out its frustration on that front.

While terming Pence’s warning worrisome, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua urged “the US to treat both Pakistan and India on an equal footing.” Reiterating the usual Pakistani stand that it has destroyed all terror havens from its soil, the foreign secretary called US statements on the issue ‘one-sided’.

Relations between Pakistan and the US are going through a rough patch these days with US putting its ally in war against terror on tight notice to crack down on terror network on its soil including the Haqqani network that harm US interests in Afghanistan.

To counter the US pressure, Pakistan has resorted to lame rhetoric that it has no terror havens, that it doesn’t need US financial aid, that it will not tolerate Indian footprint in Afghanistan and that the US, in frustration on its own failures in Afghanistan, is trying to sift blame to Pakistan.

The anger and disappointment on Pakistan’s attitude has gone on to the extent that the US has stopped the part of its economic assistance to the country to take action against the Haqqani Network and has even threatened to end its US ally status. In spite of Pakistan’s claims and reassurances, the Trump administration has refused to budge from its stand on Pakistan that the country is a terror haven and is involved in double-dealings and treachery on terror emanating from its soil that carry out regular attack on US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.