Asif calls US claim of Pakistan’s support for extremism ‘hollow allegations’
Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan has long been criticized by US officials however in the recent days senior officials have been more pointed about the alleged support of Islamabad towards militant groups.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had earlier in the week said that the United States will try “one more time” to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan before the President of United States Donald Trump would “take whatever steps are necessary” to change Pakistan’s behaviour.
The top US military officer also commented on ties and linkages the Trump administration claims Pakistan has with extremist groups.
Khwaja Asif after his meetings with White House National Security Advisor HR McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the reporters, “You want us to sniff them out, we will do that. You want us to take action against them, whatever action you propose, we will do that… (but) these hollow allegations are not acceptable.”
A new strategy for the war in Afghanistan had been outlined by Trump in August, the strategy had involved chastising Pakistan over its alleged support for Afghan militants.
Possible responses which were discussed according to reports include expanding US drone strikes and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-Nato ally.
Senator John McCain Chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee was singled out by Asif who said that the senator was “playing to his constituents” when he criticized Pakistan.
“We are not saying we are saints. Perhaps in the past, we made some mistakes. But since the last three, four years, we are wholeheartedly, single-mindedly, targeting these terrorists,” Asif said.
Asif said that Pakistan had less influence over the Taliban than in previous years, which could impact any efforts for peace talks to bring an end to the war in Afghanistan.
He added that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would be visiting Pakistan later this month.
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