ISLAMABAD: US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday met Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders and urged them “redouble” their efforts to rein in militants accused of using the country as a base to carry out attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Mattis, on a one-day visit to Pakistan, said the South Asian nation had made progress in the fight against militancy inside its borders but needed to make more.
More than 100 days since President Donald Trump announced a South Asia strategy that calls for a firmer line towards Islamabad, US officials and analysts say there has been only limited success and it is not clear how progress will be made.
US officials have long been frustrated by what they see as Pakistan’s reluctance to act against groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network that they believe exploit safe haven on Pakistani soil to launch attacks in Afghanistan.
“The Secretary reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
Mattis, who visited Pakistan for the first time as defence secretary, said before the trip that the goal for his meetings with Pakistani officials would be to find “common ground”.
In his discussion with Mattis, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the two allies shared objectives.
“We’re committed (to) the war against terror,” he said. “Nobody wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan.”
Mattis also met with high-ranking officials from Pakistan’s powerful military, including army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Lieutenant-General Naveed Mukhtar, the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency that US officials say has links with Haqqani and Taliban militants.