KARACHI: United States (US) Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, that the US “continues to value its relationship” with Pakistan and “recognises the benefits of cooperation”, according to a report by a private media outlet.
“Pakistan has played an important role in pushing al Qaeda closer to defeat, combating ISIS, securing its nuclear weapons, hosting Afghan refugees, and, importantly, providing access for supplies and equipment used by US and Afghan forces, he said adding, “We also acknowledge the enormous sacrifices the Pakistani people and security forces have made to combat terrorism.”
John Sullivan added that the US would restore security assistance to Pakistan “when we see decisive and sustained actions to address our concerns, including targeting all terrorist groups operating within its territory, without distinction.”
He said that the US is committed to doing its part to reduce tensions in the region in ways that address Pakistan’s legitimate concerns.
“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 no place in a rules-based international system. We hope the Pakistanis will also help to convince the Taliban to enter a peace process.”
In a Tuesday committee meeting on ‘The Administration’s South Asia Strategy on Afghanistan’, Sullivan informed that the South Asia strategy marks a change from status quo in US-Pakistan relations.
He said Pakistan is a long-standing and important partner, with deep historical ties to the US, and is key to the success of the South Asia Strategy.
“America’s interests are clear: we must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America, we must encourage restraint in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and prevent nuclear weapons and materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.”
He said the Defence Department will continue to press Pakistan to make positive changes in its approach and will provide clear and consistent feedback in response to Pakistani action or inaction.
During the ensuing question and answer session, Sullivan noted that there are still remnants of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan along with more lethal elements of ISIS.
He also said the bilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan relationship has to improve, noting that “if we can’t solve this, things won’t improve”.
After Sullivan credited Pakistan for what it has done for Afghan refugees, saying that if they went back home en mass, it would be an unmanageable burden for Afghanistan, Senator Chris Coons made a remark about Trump’s xenophobic immigration policies.
“How does it affect our moral authority when the US is kicking out refugees,” he asked.