Friday, 10 November 2017

No change in Pakistan's behavior yet: NATO commander in Afghanistan

Gen John Nicholson. Photo: File
Gen John Nicholson. Photo: File

US Army General and commander of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, John Nicholson, has said that there has been no change in Pakistan’s behavior and no increased cooperation on terrorist safe havens.
"No, I haven't seen any change yet in their behavior,” Nicholson said in a media talk after a meeting of the NATO defence ministers in Brussels, reported CNN.
"You've heard the public statements from President Trump, from (Defence Secretary James) Mattis, from (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford) from (Secretary of State Rex) Tillerson, so we are engaging at the very highest levels with the Pakistanis to work together with them against these terrorists that are undermining the stability of the entire region," Nicholson added.
"Pakistan has fought hard and suffered heavily against those terrorists focused on its government and now we are asking them to focus on the terrorists that are attacking Afghanistan and attacking the coalition,"
"The United States has been very clear about the direction we want to go and we hope to see some change in the coming weeks and months.
Mattis in a meeting on Thursday said that the US government was reaching out to the international community to help encourage Pakistan to take action against the Afghan Taliban by offering incentives and disincentives.
"Obviously, there are ways we can reward Pakistan and there are ways we can ensure they are held to account," Mattis said.
"We are going to work with Pakistan and make this work," he added.
Relations between the two countries strained after a tough speech by Trump in August announcing a change in the country’s policy on the region, and only slightly normalized after meetings between top government officials.
The Pakistani military and civilian leadership have denied the presence of terrorist safe havens on its soil on numerous occasions.
"There are no organized bases of any terrorist organizations in the country anymore," said the spokesperson for the Pakistan Army earlier in October.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had also conveyed the same message to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his recent visit to Washington.

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