India calls Pak remarks “a lonely voice from the wilderness”
US believes that Pakistan can have strong economic benefits from India if it carries out its international responsibilities and brings an end to any kind of terror havens on its soil. This was told by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington on Tuesday.
His comments came at a time when Pakistani Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif is visiting US for meeting Secretary of state Rex Tillerson to resume bilateral talks and find out ways to dispel tension caused after President Trump’s south Asia policy speech on august 21.
According to reports from Washington, Jim Mattis further said, “There’s a great deal that Pakistan can benefit economically, diplomatically, financially for its government; economically for its people; by finally sensing that the tide has shifted against this.”
Responding to a question on why the administration believes that Pakistan will change its behavior this time, Mattis said that Trump administration believes that it would be highly difficult to sustain any stabilization in south Asia, not just in Afghanistan but certainly anywhere around Pakistan and India unless safe heavens are removed.
US President, while unveiling his Afghan policy on August 21 said, “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.”
Mattis said that Pakistan has a “convoluted history” with terrorism. There can be little doubt that there have been terrorist groups that have used Pakistan as a haven for attacks outwardly.
He shared India’s concern over the Pakistan’s involvement in cross border terror activities saying, “We’ve seen the attacks on India as well. At the same time, probably few nations, perhaps none, have lost as many troops fighting terrorists as they have.”
However, John Mc Cain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has reportedly said, “But we still do not know what specific steps the United States will take to convince or compel Pakistan to change its behaviour, or what costs we will impose if Pakistan fails to do so.”
However, Dawn, a leading Pakistani daily published a Reuters report that Defence Secretary James Mattis has said that Washington would try “one more time” to work with Islamabad on Afghanistan front before President Donald Trump turned to options to address Pakistan’s alleged support for militant groups.
It is believed that Trump administration was discussing the options of expanding US drone strikes and eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status of a major non-Nato ally.
Recently Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of Joint chiefs of Staff told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate had maintained relations with “terrorist groups.”
Meanwhile, Eenam Gambhir, the first secretary at India’s UN mission has, on Tuesday, dismissed Pakistan’s latest provocation at the General Assembly by raising surgical strikes and Kashmir as a waste of time “symbolic of what holds us all back”.
The Indian diplomat, using her right to reply said that Pakistan permanent representative Maleeha Lodhi’s remarks about India were “a lonely voice from the wilderness”.
“My delegation does not wish to waste the precious time of this august assembly in further engaging with such distractions,” Gambhir said in a short 45-second rejoinder. However, she was entitled to 10 minutes to exercise her right.
Earlier Maleeha Lodhi, while participating in a debate in the General Assembly on the annual report on UN’s work, went off the topic and denied that India carried out any surgical strike against Pakistan.