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US wants Pakistan to make 'smart choices'

ANI | Updated: Oct 19, 2018 18:01 IST

Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], Oct 19 (ANI): According to the officials within the United States Department of State, US President Donald Trump's administration would continue to exert diplomatic pressure on Pakistan until it changes its policy towards regional peace and stability in neighbouring country Afghanistan, reported The Nation London.
Henry S. Ensher, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pakistan for the State Department, while addressing an event at the Wilson Centre here on Wednesday night, said that the US is prepared to be Pakistan's partner if it makes smart choices. "We can't be silent about the fact that externally focused groups enjoy sanctuary in Pakistan," he asserted.
One of the major areas of policy divergence with Pakistan for the United States was the negotiations on Afghanistan, said Ensher.
"As long as that continues, we will continue to colour and take centre stage in (the) bilateral relationship. In reality, we have seen some action, but we have not seen the decisive steps from Pakistan that could demonstrate commitment, ensuring their territory cannot be used by the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and other groups that were so violent and bring instability in the region," The Nation London quoted Ensher, as saying.
Ensher further reiterated that Pakistan has shown that it can address terrorism on its soil when it is determined to do so and that the status quo in Afghanistan does not serve Pakistani interests.
He even argued that the President Trump administration's decision to withhold security assistance and coalition support fund (CSF) payments to Pakistan drew from its concerns over Islamabad's consistently "counter-productive policies".
However, he added that the US had pinned hopes on the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government, which apparently had an opportunity to "fix bilateral relations" as well as to "bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan by partnering with the US."
"Doing so will enable more mutually beneficial relationship," Ensher noted, adding that the US was committed to forming productive diplomatic relations with Pakistan, but not much could be done until Pakistan took reformative action.
"A future course of our relationship, and indeed the trajectory of Pakistan's development, rest in the hands of Pakistani leaders," Ensher was quoted by The Nation London.
Justifying common criticisms of US policies in Pakistan, Ensher said that diplomatic relations were such because the US had directly been engaged with the conflict for 17 years, though it did not occur in its own territory. "It has more than 15,000 troops on the ground, spent more than $900 billion so far, and endured more than 2200 deaths," he added.
Ensher agreed that the US was more than willing to continue applying pressure to advance its national interests. "We will continue to do so in South Asia as well as elsewhere, but it should not disguise the fact that we genuinely believe that a shift in Pakistan policy in aligning with our strategy is very much in Pakistan's own interests as well," he said.
He has even warned Pakistan that its policies in Kabul don't serve "its own interests" as the militant group Daesh threatens peace in the region, as well as the possibility of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) using Afghan territory as a platform for attacks in Pakistan.
He explained, "We know that Pakistan can't deliver a deal by itself, but Pakistan can play a constructive role. We welcome additional measures that Pakistan government could take to increase the willingness of the Taliban leadership to negotiate."
Referring to the India-Pakistan relations, Ensher said that the US hoped bilateral discussions between India and Pakistan could move forward. But the presence of terrorist groups on Pakistani soil could limit the potential for a positive outcome from such a dialogue.
"US has encouraged Pakistan to address these issues so that the regional tensions can be resolved and regional connectivity could improve, helping the Indo-Pak trade which could jump from the current USD 2 billion to USD 37 billion as per World Bank's estimates," he said. (ANI)