ISLAMABAD - The United States on Tuesday pressed Pakistan to accept President Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan policy – with a greater role for India - if it desired partnership with Washington, The Nation has learnt.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who visited Islamabad, made it clear to Pakistan’s civil and military leadership that his country would not change its Afghan policy on Islamabad’s demand, officials privy to the meeting told The Nation.

“Tillerson was straightforward in telling us that the only way out for Pakistan [if it wanted to continue partnership with Washington] is to accept new policies of the US. Tillerson emphasised the US wanted India’s engagement on the Afghan issue,” said one official, adding the US asked Pakistan to go for the kill against all terror outfits.

Tillerson, who was not accorded a rousing welcome when he landed in Islamabad ostensibly for his aggressive statements before flying to Pakistan, was firm that Pakistan needed to “do more” to improve the Pak-US trust level.

The top US envoy faced Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence chief Naveed Mukhtar, secretary to PM Mussadiq Malik, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and other officials on one table as he led his own delegation including Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale.

A US embassy statement issued after the meeting said, during his inaugural trip to Pakistan as secretary of state, Tillerson “reiterated President Trump’s message that Pakistan must increase its efforts to eradicate militants and terrorists operating within the country.”

The US statement said to address those concerns, “the secretary outlined the United States’ new South Asia Strategy and the vital role that Pakistan can play in working with the United States and others [in all probability India] to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that can bring stability and security to the region.”

The secretary, the statement said, noted that “Pakistan and the United States shared common interests in establishing a stable, peaceful Afghanistan, defeating ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] in South Asia, and eliminating terrorist groups that threaten both Pakistan and the United States.”

It added: “The secretary discussed our continued bilateral cooperation and partnership, expanding economic ties between the United States and Pakistan, and Pakistan’s critical role in the region.”

It was not all sticks as in the end, Tillerson “expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.”

The secretary, the US embassy said, also “expressed his gratitude to the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistani army for their cooperation in securing the release of the Boyle-Coleman family from captivity.”

Sources said initially separate meetings between Tillerson, Abbasi, Khawaja Asif and General Bajwa were planned but PM Abbasi wanted the meeting to take place on one table so that the civil and the military leadership could listen to what US secretary had to say, together.

The US embassy said Prime Minister Abbasi chaired the “interagency meeting”.

A close aide of the prime minister told The Nation that the ministers and the military leadership were called to discuss the issues on one table to “keep everything transparent”.

“The idea was to listen to Tillerson and give a joint reply through the PM. We [Pakistani civil and military leaders] did have consultations before Tillerson’s visit to finalise our response [to the US],” he said.

The official said Pakistan’s concerns over India’s proposed role on the Afghanistan issue and India’s state-sponsored terrorism in Held Kashmir were shared with Tillerson.

“Tillerson did not give any desired reply on India’s role in Afghanistan but vowed to support [Pak-India] bilateral efforts for resolution of the Kashmir issue,” he added.

Interestingly, PM Abbasi flew to Lahore almost simultaneously with Tillerson who left for New Delhi after the “important talks”.

Officials said Prime Minister Abbasi told Tillerson that Pakistan was committed to the “war on terror” and was not playing any double-game with the US or the world.

He also referred to the sacrifices made by Pakistan in the war on terror and added that Pakistan had “produced results” in the fight.

The PM, an official said, shared Pakistan’s fears that US proposal for India’s greater role to resolve the Afghanistan issue would only aggravate the situation.

“Pakistan is already a victim of Indian-sponsored terrorism emanating from the Afghan soil,” he quoted the premier as saying.

An identical statement released separately by the PM’s office and the foreign ministry said Tillerson’s visit was a follow-up to the meeting between Prime Minister Abbasi and the US Vice President, Mike Pence, in New York in September 2017 in which the “two sides agreed to resume full scale engagements between the two governments.”

The prime minister, it said, underlined the importance of high-level engagements between the two countries and expressed satisfaction on the progress made during those interactions in recent months.

Abbasi informed the visiting delegation of the significant strides Pakistan had made in improving the overall security and economic environment of the country resulting in significantly improved business and investment opportunities available to foreign businesses and investors, said the statement.

“The talks covered in detail all aspects of bilateral relations, the regional situation, as well as the evolving international environment,” it said.

Pakistan delegation, the statement said, outlined the government’s policy of a peaceful neighbourhood and steps taken to promote cooperation and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

“The US delegation was informed that progress in promoting peace and stability in the region was linked to the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. The ongoing grave violations of human rights by Indian occupation forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir were highlighted,” the statement added.

The US delegation was apprised of the tremendous sacrifices made by the Pakistan nation including security forces and the law enforcement agencies in the war against terror, it said.

“The fact that Pakistani security forces have successfully carried out the largest counterterrorism operation was detailed along with Pakistan’s sustained commitment and interest in supporting peace and stability in Afghanistan as well as the broader region. The delegation was also informed of the ongoing efforts on securing the Pak-Afghan border out of national resources,” said the statement.

It added: “The two sides agreed to build upon the understandings reached in the dialogue process and to continue the pace and scope of high-level engagements in future.”