Washington: The US may consider lifting its suspension of aid to Pakistan if Islamabad takes “decisive” and “sustained” actions against terror groups operating within the country, a top American diplomat said today.
Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing on Afghanistan that he intends to hold Pakistan accountable for its failure to deny sanctuary to terrorists.
“We may consider lifting the suspension when we see decisive and sustained actions to address our concerns, including targeting all terrorist groups operating within its territory, without distinction,” Sullivan said.
This was the first hearing on Afghanistan after the Trump Administration last month announced to suspend nearly USD 2 billion in security assistance to the Pakistani military with limited exceptions for programmes that directly support US national security interests on a case-by-case basis.
“We also encourage restraint in Pakistan’s military, nuclear and missile programmes, and seek continued, closer alignment of Pakistan’s nonproliferation policies with our own,” he added.
Noting that the US continues to value its relationship with Pakistan and recognise the benefits of cooperation, Sullivan said Pakistan played an important role in pushing al-Qaeda closer to defeat and combatting in ISIS.
He said Pakistan also had played an important role in securing its nuclear weapons, hosting Afghan refugees and providing access for the supplies and equipment used by US and Afghan forces.
The US acknowledges the enormous sacrifices the Pakistani people and security forces have made to combat terrorism, he said.
“We have shared with Pakistan our South Asia strategy in detail and have made our expectations clear to Pakistan, emphasizing that they must take decisive action against all militant and terrorist groups based there,” Sullivan said.
He said the US was committed to doing its part to reduce tensions in the region in ways that address Pakistan’s legitimate concerns.
Sullivan did not elaborate further on that.
“To be clear, we oppose the use of terrorist proxies by any country against another country, anywhere in the world.
The use of terrorism has noplace in a rules-based international system,” he said.
“We hope the Pakistanis will also help to convince the Taliban to enter a peace process,” Sullivan said.