- Pentagon spokesperson says Pakistan and Afghanistan ‘sponsored terrorism’
WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement on the 2008 Mumbai attacks is an “inflection point” for Pakistan.
The statement was passed by Assistant to the Secretary of Defence for Public Affairs Dana White during the regular briefing held at the Pentagon.
Nawaz, in a recent interview to a leading English Daily, had said, “Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?”
His remarks were played up by the Indian media as an “admission” of Pakistan’s involvement in the terrorist attacks.
The statement was criticised and condemned by the top Pakistani civil and military leadership with the National Security Committee (NSC) terming the remarks “completely false and misleading”. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had also held a press conference, saying that Nawaz’s statement was “misreported”. Shehbaz Sharif, deposed PM’s brother and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president, had tried to downplay the statement, saying that former premier’s interview was twisted out of context by his political opponents and them “completely false and misleading”.
During the briefing, White said Pakistan had been a victim of terrorism but alleged that Pakistan and Afghanistan have also “sponsored terrorism”.
The US claim has been refuted multiple times by the country’s top military and civil leadership. Pakistan, over the years, has carried out comprehensive counter-insurgency operations in the tribal areas, once a hotbed for militancy, and has been successful in restoring the writ of the state and eliminating terrorist havens on Pakistani soil.
White expressed hope that Pakistan will be a partner in safeguarding the region and would “do more” to uphold regional peace in South Asia.
The Pentagon spokesman further said that Pakistan can do more with respect to the security of Afghanistan. She reiterated that the US expects more from Pakistan and hopes it will play a major role in maintaining peace.
On January 1, US President Donald Trump said that the US ‘foolishly’ gave aid to Pakistan over the period of 15 years but Islamabad gave “nothing in return but lies and deceit” by providing safe havens to terrorists from Afghanistan.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” Trump said in a late-night tweet.
Following the statement by the US president, Pakistan’s military aid was also suspended.
Country’s top civil and military leadership rejected Trump’s statement.