US may slap sanctions on Pakistani govt officials 'with ties to terrorists'

Published: August 23, 2017
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PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

US President Donald Trump’s new approach with Pakistan’s government could potentially include sanctioning Pakistani government officials with ties to terrorist organisations, a senior administration official said Tuesday morning.

According to the unnamed official quoted by Politico Magazine, possible sanctioning is part of an overall regional strategy that he said has put Pakistan ‘on notice’ that “business as usual as it has been up to now is over”.

Trump, in a nationally televised address Monday night, announced that he would deploy more additional troops to Afghanistan, bolstering the Afghan military in its fight against the Taliban.

Trump lays down Afghan strategy, lambasts Pakistan for ‘harbouring terrorists’

“I think the important takeaway for the Pakistani government last night is that, you know, they should understand that they’re on notice from this president, from this administration,” the official said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

“The United States has been really patient with Pakistan for a really long time. We haven’t been getting a good deal from them,” he added.

The conference call was held for administration allies and surrogates, not the media, but some news organisations who learned of the call dialed in, including Politico.

As part of the new strategy, the official said the US could conceivably impose sanctions on terrorist groups, including the Haqqani network, which has links to elements in the Pakistani government, as well as on any Pakistani officials “who are tied to these kinds of groups, you know, in ways that they shouldn’t be”.

The US gives the Pakistani government substantial security aid, the official noted, and in return receive, at best, “indifference to border crossing and terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries” in the tribal regions along the Afghan border.

‘In the worst case,’ the official said, the Pakistani government has been guilty of ‘active direct support’ for terrorist groups.

Trump tough talk unlikely to move Pakistan

While cooperation between the US and Pakistan was relatively strong in the years immediately following the Sept 11 attacks, issues of trust surrounding US drone strikes in Pakistan and the discovery of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad have created fissures in the relationship.

Of particular worry to Pakistan has been the involvement of arch-rival India in Afghanistan, a concern that the official characterized as an ‘excuse’ on the part of the Pakistanis.

“What India is doing in Afghanistan is not a threat to Pakistan. They’re not building military bases. They’re not deploying troops,” the official said.

“They’re not doing the things that would constitute encirclement, for lack of a better term, which is one of the things that the Pakistanis complain about.”

The official said the president had benefited from an outsider’s perspective on the US-Pakistan relationship, eschewing the conventional wisdom that “however much the Pakistanis double-deal you and lie to you and don’t cooperate, you have no choice but to just keep the status quo.”

The Trump official put the onus on the Pakistani government to repair its relationship with the US.

“How do we get the Pakistan to behave better? The answer is we have leverage points over Pakistan that the strategy contemplates we will use. Ultimately whether they behave better or not is completely up to them,” the official said.

“They may calculate that it’s more important to, you know, remain allied with terrorists, it’s more important to give terrorists safe haven, it’s more important to do all the nasty things that they’ve been doing that we don’t like than it is to have a good relationship with the United States,” he continued.

“If so, that’s a choice that they will make and then we will make choices based on their choice.”

 

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Sexton
    Aug 23, 2017 - 1:36AM

    So America creates a disaster in South Asia and blames Pakistan for it?Recommend

  • Iqbal
    Aug 23, 2017 - 2:12AM

    Finally, Mr Trump talking tough with Pakistan. I do not think Pakistan has any choice but to cooperate. As the US official said:
    “How do we get the Pakistan to behave better? The answer is we have leverage points over Pakistan that the strategy contemplates we will use. Ultimately whether they behave better or not is completely up to them,”Recommend

  • Kam
    Aug 23, 2017 - 4:11AM

    Can they name one city, one town, one village or even one neighbourhood in Pakistan run by Haqqani network?As oppose to Sangin, Musa Qala, whole Kandahar and Helmand or I would say whole Afghanistan outside Kabul is under Taliban administration. Why taliban need safe heavens in Pakistan? Safe heavens are for people on the run not for people running a whole country?Recommend

  • Imran Malik
    Aug 23, 2017 - 4:18AM

    It is pressure tactics for Govt. of Pakistan to let Army join so called Islamic Army against Yemen and Iran. Sharif was against joining that Islamic Army reason not to fight another neighbour. Pakistan Army is licking its lips since the formation of Islamic Army. This will help them to earn tax free dollars which had ceased due to Kerry Logur bill. Recommend

  • Sabir
    Aug 23, 2017 - 5:22AM

    Love your work and your expression. Some day I don,t need to read the topic of day just by
    reading your cartoon. Your small sketch is enough to sum off the complete story. Keep up with good work..Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Aug 23, 2017 - 6:04AM

    Government officials ? Phew ! At least military officers have been spared. We do live in a democracy, don’t we ?Recommend

  • vinsin
    Aug 23, 2017 - 6:10AM

    Pakistan complained why India is building dams, roads, parliament, democracy, schools, hospitals etc? Pakistan want to fund Taliban and oppose women rights and want Sharia. But the same Pakistani dont want the same things on themselves. Recommend

  • BrainBro
    Aug 23, 2017 - 6:16AM

    If this is true then a lot of generals might get trapped in it. Recommend

  • Sexton
    Aug 23, 2017 - 9:00AM

    The US has created terrorism. They will have to start slapping sanctions on themselves. Recommend

  • Fouad Maroof
    Aug 23, 2017 - 9:43AM

    Pls…Go Ahead…Recommend

  • Saeed Masood
    Aug 23, 2017 - 9:52AM

    Thank you America for being selfish with us but don’t worry we have a very good friend called China…Recommend

  • jamshed yasin
    Aug 23, 2017 - 9:54AM

    Indeed a very good decision Recommend

  • Chaudhry
    Aug 23, 2017 - 9:58AM

    Tahir ul Qadri is their Agent, why will they impose sanctions on him.Recommend

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