NEW DELHI: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the United States is concerned that extremist groups are threatening the “stability and security” of the government in Pakistan.
Tillerson, who arrived in New Delhi late Tuesday after a brief and tense stop in Islamabad, said extremists were finding sanctuary inside Pakistan to launch attacks on other nations.
He said Pakistan had an interest “in not just containing these organisations but ultimately eliminating” the groups.
“Quite frankly my view – and I expressed this to the leadership of Pakistan – is we also are concerned about the stability and security of Pakistan’s government as well,” he told reporters in New Delhi. “This could lead to a threat to Pakistan’s own stability. It is not in anyone’s interests that the government of Pakistan be destabilised.”
On his maiden visit to Islamabad, Secretary Tillerson – while renewing the US demand seeking action against Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network – said many of the solutions to the regional challenges have to be found in Pakistan in a statement that underlines the importance of Islamabad in the Trump administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.
Meanwhile, the top diplomat thanked India for its ‘support’ in combating extremism.
“In the fight against terrorism the United States will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with India,” he said.
New Delhi has welcomed US overtures for closer ties, saying it shares Washington’s optimism about their burgeoning relationship.
Speaking ahead of his visit, Tillerson called for deeper cooperation with India in the face of growing Chinese influence in Asia, and said Washington wanted to promote a “free and open” region led by prosperous democracies.
Trump’s top diplomat also said Beijing sometimes acted outside international conventions, citing the South China Sea dispute as an example.
India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that Trump’s strategy for the region hinged on Pakistan eradicating militant havens on its territory.
“We believe that President Trump’s new policy can succeed only if Pakistan effectively acts against all terror organisations without any discrimination,” she told the press conference with Tillerson.
India has historically avoided alliances, preferring to maintain cautious relations with both Washington and Beijing, but Trump has developed a warm relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Tillerson, who was to meet Modi later Wednesday, started the day by meeting national security adviser Ajit Doval.
He also laid a wreath at a memorial to India’s independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi, removing his shoes to approach a pillar marking the spot where Gandhi was shot dead on January 30, 1948.