Pakistan in touch with US over unilateral action threats

Pakistan in touch with US over unilateral action threats

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua while speaking at a meeting of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said the government was “in conversation with the US on unilateral actions” to explore how the situation could be resolved through intelligence sharing.

The concerns, the foreign secretary noted, were “both ways”.

The Pentagon had in a report on Afghanistan this week said, “We must see fundamental changes in the way Pakistan deals with terrorist safe havens in its territory. To induce that change, we will work across the US Government, using a range of tools to expand our cooperation with Pakistan in areas where our interests converge and to take unilateral steps in areas of divergence.”

Senator Farhatullah Babar said US talk of unilateral action and reminder of head money on Jamaatud Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed was worrying and could be a prelude to another “Osama bin Laden sort of action”.

Bin Ladin carried the head money of $25 million and was taken out by a unilateral action by US Seals without prior warning, whereas now a specific declaration had been made and the two statements ominously juxtaposed together, he said.

The Pentagon threat of “unilateral steps” has accompanied hardening of the Trump administration’s stance towards Pakistan on the issue of alleged terrorist sanctuaries on its soil. President Trump, while unveiling his administration’s National Security Strategy (NSS), said, “We must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help.”

The NSS document had mentioned that the US “continues to face threats from transnational terrorists and militants operating from within Pakistan”.

Ms Janjua said the Foreign Office had issued a detailed rejoinder to the US NSS document rebutting the allegations and cautioning against the “trivialising” of Pakistani sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.

She said the US had been told that security arrangements were in place and the area had been cleared of terrorists and terrorist networks. “If there is an individual detrimental to US interests then we are ready to act,” she added.

But, she said, Pakistan expected the US to do the same on Afghanistan side of the border where existence of terrorist sanctuaries was a reality.

Ms Janjua said the US understood Pakistan’s concerns. “So we hope that on the basis of recognition of our concerns... the conversation about US concerns can provide the basis for moving forward and building a relationship that is progressive and forward looking”.