ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said it would be counter-productive for the United States to sanction Pakistani officials or further cut military assistance, warning it would hurt both countries’ fight against militancy.
US-Pakistan relations have frayed since President Donald Trump last month set out a new Afghanistan policy and lashed out at nuclear-armed Pakistan as a fickle ally that gives safe haven to “agents of chaos” by harboring the Afghan Taliban and other militants.
The United States has already begun conditioning future aid to Pakistan on progress Islamabad makes in tackling the Haqqani network militants who it alleges are Pakistan-based and have helped the Taliban carry out deadly attacks inside Afghanistan.
Pakistan denies hosting militant sanctuaries, and Islamabad bristles at claims it has not done enough to tackle militancy, noting it has borne the brunt of violence in the so-called war on terror, suffering more than 60,000 casualties since 2001.
Former petroleum minister Abbasi, 58, who was installed as prime minister last month after the Supreme Court ousted veteran premier Nawaz Sharif over undeclared income, told Reuters that any targeted sanctions by Washington against Pakistani military and intelligence officials would not help US counter-terrorism efforts.
“We are fighting the war against terror, anything that degrades our effort will only hurt the US effort,” Abbasi said in an interview in Islamabad on Monday. “What does it achieve?”
US officials privately say the targeted sanctions would be aimed at Pakistani officials with ties to extremist groups and are part of an array of options being discussed to pressure Pakistan to change its behavior, including further aid cuts.