A day after U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled a new strategy to force the Taliban to negotiate a political settlement with the Kabul government, his top diplomat upped the heat on Islamabad.
Trump had warned that Pakistan’s support for the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents would have consequences, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has now spelled these out.
“We have some leverage,” Tillerson told reporters, as he fleshed out Trump’s speech, “in terms of aid, their status as a non-NATO alliance partner – all of that can be put on the table.”
As one of 16 “Non-NATO Major Allies,” Pakistan benefits from billions of dollars in aid and has access to some advanced U.S. military technology banned from other countries.
Tillerson said Washington wants to work with Pakistan as it expands its own support for Kabul in the battle against the Taliban, but warned it to close militant safe havens.
“We have put people on notice that if you’re providing safe haven to terrorists, be warned — we are going to engage those providing safe haven and ask them to change what they are doing.”
Tillerson added that, aside from the Afghans, Pakistan has more to gain “than any other nation” from an end to the fighting.
Following the matter, former Afghan National Security Council advisor, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, however, said that militarism is the biggest issue of the U.S. new strategy as he believes it will rise risks of Afghanistan being a battleground for regional powers.
He stressed that U.S. will not win the war as long as the country does not impose sanctions on Pakistan to force the country to act against the terrorists’ safe havens on its soil.