US Defence Secretary James Mattis has asked Pakistan to “redouble” efforts to confront militants operating from its soil as he met the country’s top leadership amid Washington’s concerns that Islamabad was not doing enough to dismantle terror safe havens.
According to a news report by PTI, Mattis held a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi after arriving on his maiden tour to Pakistan to explore ways to effectively eliminate the threat of militancy, days after 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed was released from house arrest.
The US Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement that Mattis told Abbasi to “redouble” efforts to tackle militants operating from Pakistan’s territory.
“The secretary reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country,” Pentagon chief spokesperson Dana W White said after Mattis concluded his inaugural trip to Pakistan.
Mattis also met Minister of Defence Khurram Dastigir Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar.
“Mattis recognised Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism,” White said, adding that Mattis emphasised the vital role that Pakistan can play in working with the US and others to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that brings stability and security to the region.
Abbasi said Pakistan, in its national interest, would continue to conduct intelligence-based operations all over the country to consolidate the gains achieved in the last four years.
“The prime minister reiterated that there are no safe havens in Pakistan and the entire nation was committed to its resolve on eradicating terrorism once and for all in all its forms and manifestations,” according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad.
Abbasi said no other country benefits more from peace and stability in Afghanistan than Pakistan.
He agreed with Mattis that both Pakistan and the US have common stakes in securing peace and security in Afghanistan for the long term stability of the broader region.
He also appreciated the US resolve not to allow the use of Afghan soil against Pakistan.
The visit of Mattis comes about a week after the White House asked Pakistan to immediately arrest and charge 26/11 mastermind Saeed, in the absence of which it warned Islamabad of repercussions.
Mattis is the first top American official to visit Pakistan after completion of the first 100 days of the US’ new South Asia strategy unveiled by Trump on August 21.