US Defence Secretary says will try to work with Pakistan 'one more time'

Published: October 3, 2017
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Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. PHOTO: AFP

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday the United States would try “one more time” to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan before President Donald Trump would turn to options to address Islamabad’s alleged support for militant groups.

Relations between the two countries have been frayed over the past decade. While officials have long questioned the role Pakistan has played in Afghanistan, the comments by Mattis are likely to cause concern in Islamabad and within the Pakistan military.

“We need to try one more time to make this strategy work with them, by, with and through the Pakistanis, and if our best efforts fail, the president is prepared to take whatever steps are necessary,” Mattis said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

US greatly appreciates efforts undertaken by Pakistan in fighting terrorism: General Joseph L Votel

Mattis added that he would be traveling to Islamabad soon, but did not give more details. Reuters first reported that possible Trump administration responses being discussed include expanding US drone strikes and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.

When asked by a lawmaker whether revoking Pakistan’s major non-NATO ally status was amongst the options being considered to deal with Islamabad, Mattis said: “I am sure it will be.”

In a separate Senate hearing on Tuesday, the top US military officer said he believed Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, had ties to militant groups. “It is clear to me that the ISI has connections with terrorist groups,” Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Pakistan embassy in Washington said Islamabad had achieved success in counter-terrorism operations in its country. “However, unless the same level of success is achieved in (Afghanistan), long lasting peace in the region will remain out of reach,” the embassy said in a statement.

Afghan Taliban leaders are in Quetta and Peshawar: Gen Nicholson

The United States in 2012 designated the Pakistan-based Haqqani network as a terrorist organization. The year before, US Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, then the top US military officer, caused a stir when he told Congress that the Haqqani network was a “veritable arm” of the ISI directorate.

US officials have told Reuters that the United States will send about 3,500 additional troops to Afghanistan. Dunford said that the current cost for the United States in Afghanistan was about  $12.5 billion a year, and the new strategy would cost an additional $1.1 billion.

 

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Sajid
    Oct 3, 2017 - 10:56PM

    The USA must first legitimate its loyalty with other countries before questioning other’s sincerity.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Oct 3, 2017 - 11:50PM

    Is he serious ? Does he not know that EVERY intelligence agency in the world maintains relations especially with the so called ‘ bad guys ‘……. that’s their job.Recommend

  • Steven Mumbai
    Oct 4, 2017 - 1:49AM

    What’s new or news here?Recommend

  • Rebirth
    Oct 4, 2017 - 3:00AM

    Reading all these comments makes one wonder how many troops India has contributed to the fight against terror in any part of the world for the last two decades. Fighting secessionist movement protesters in the streets where they’re a majority, doesn’t count. Also, how many refugees has India accepted? Saying they offered economic aid is useless.

    Pakistan also offered a billion dollar aid-package and helped their economy by hosting refugees, which in turn contributed to the human capital and human development in their country through education, business, remittances, etc. Hundreds and thousands of refugees migrated abroad through Pakistan. If Indians want to ‘comment’, then they must do more. If not, don’t get involved in matters that don’t relate to you and in which you aren’t ever likely to contribute towards, in any positive, meaningful way. Stick to harassing your minorities and women. I’m still confused as to which part of the hearing even remotely insinuates anything about India or Indians. Their tongues being used as trishuls will not help get them the status they are seeking. For that, they will need toilets, less poverty and know when to not poke their noses in other people’s business to avoid being ignored with contempt.

    In regards to the accusation, we have been hearing it since this entire thing started. In fact, even before it. But now, with the involvement of Russia and China, this region isn’t ever likely to fall in the hands of any extremist as it doesn’t serve any of their interests. In addition to Iran, you may even include CIS dictatorships who wouldn’t ever want that. With the recent visit of the Saudi king to Russia for the first time in history, it is even less likely that the Arabs would back any one, specific kind of movement over another. Everyone is likely to seek a settlement, including Pakistan, as indicated by the trips made by two successive chiefs, legitimatizing their government. Let’s also add Turkey to this list.

    Therefore, at this point, this conflict is a larger, geopolitical conflict that we already see taking place on a global scale and not merely about Pakistanis being ‘mischievous’. Pakistan’s ‘role’ doesn’t seem as significant from the perspective shared, above. Maybe, Pakistan can have some influence in areas that share tribal and ethnic linkages in the near future but outside of that, I find it hard to believe that they’re some kind of equal adversaries or the sole contributive factor to any lack of stability.

    Surely, a void in any centralized government system for the past 5,000 years might have something to do with that. And, competing geopolitical interests of some regional and global powers, too. But Pakistan, alone? I, personally, genuinely doubt it. Not to take too much away from Pakistanis, but I find it hard to believe that they can actually be capable enough of doing what they’re often, accused of. Maybe it’s just me but I know my people well enough to know that no matter how much they ‘maximized’ their potential, they just simply couldn’t pull all of this off, and that too for this long a time-frame.Recommend

  • Jade
    Oct 4, 2017 - 8:49AM

    Pakistan’s ties with Afghans are not a like a switch on the wall, which can be turned on and turned off when needed. Pakistan and the US nurtured these militants in 80s to fight USSR. Then US left with Pakistan to manage the fall outs of the war. Now US has taken the role of occupation force. You will definitely meet resistance. Recommend

  • Shah S
    Oct 4, 2017 - 11:17PM

    @Jade: GOOD… History can never be wrong.. this superpower occupier force will learn their lesson very very soon; Recommend

  • Insaaf Hussain
    Oct 5, 2017 - 12:33AM

    USA is making empty threats and his comments should be ignored. As an atomic power, Pakistan is “too big to fail”. We can maintain our sovereignty and demand as much aid as we want. World knows what will happen if Pakistan fails and the weapons fall into wrong hands.Recommend

  • SayThanks
    Oct 5, 2017 - 3:36AM

    @Sajid: The USA must first legitimate its loyalty with other countries before questioning other’s sincerity.

    Thats not part of their culture mate, be careful next time. I have personally pardoned you on this occasion, considering that its your first offence and you will get better in future. However I cannot extend any guarantee that you will be safe from drone strike for this offence.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Oct 5, 2017 - 7:02AM

    Pakistan will never abandon “Strategic Depth” policy using “Good Taliban” terrorist proxies to meddle in neighboring countries affairs!
    Get ready for trade sanctions from US!Recommend

  • BrainBro
    Oct 5, 2017 - 8:47PM

    Futile attempt. The GHQ has no interest in modifying its policies.Recommend

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