Pakistan to be held accountable for ‘terrorist havens’, says Pompeo


–US secretary of state says he categorically told PM Imran Khan that Washington hopes ‘Pakistan will achieve goal set out for them’


WASHINGTON: United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday night warned that Pakistan would be held accountable if it “continues to provide safe havens to terrorists”.

“Our expectation is that Pakistan will not provide safe havens to terrorists,” he said, adding a warning that Islamabad would “be held accountable”.

Talking to reporters at the State Department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters, Pompeo said this was the message he had delivered to the Pakistani leadership when he traveled to Islamabad in September, after Imran Khan became prime minister.

Pompeo said all stakeholders want reconciliation and for that to happen, “you cannot have sanctuaries”, adding that “the US has made it clear to Pakistan that its South Asia policy has not changed”.

The Pakistani government knows that “that’s our review and this administration has already made significant efforts to hold them accountable and we hope that they’ll achieve the goal that we have out for them”, said the secretary of state.

He indicated that there has been no change in the Trump administration’s policy with regard to suspension of security aid to Pakistan unless it takes satisfactory measures to eliminate alleged safe terrorist safe havens.

Early this year, US President Donald Trump had suspended $300 million in security aid to Pakistan.

Following his meeting with PM Khan on Sept 5, Secretary Pompeo had said that he was hopeful of “a reset of relations” long strained over the war in Afghanistan.

Pompeo met with Khan as well as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and the country’s powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa during the visit.

“We talked about their new government, the opportunity to reset the relationship between our two countries across a broad spectrum,” including business ties and ending the war in Afghanistan, Pompeo told reporters before leaving for India.

“And I’m hopeful that the foundation that we laid today will set the conditions for continued success as we start to move forward.”

Pompeo expressed confidence in a new beginning in relations with nuclear-armed Pakistan, but conceded: “We’ve still got a long way to go.”

“We made clear to them that – and they agreed – it’s time for us to begin to deliver on our joint commitments,” Pompeo said, without specifically mentioning the Taliban.

Washington has accused Islamabad of turning a blind eye to, or helping, Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network fighters who stage attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies doing so. In July, Pompeo said there was “no rationale” for the IMF to give money to Pakistan that would then be used to pay off Chinese loans, comments that further rattled Islamabad.