ISLAMABAD - The United States on Thursday delivered a strong message of ‘do a lot more’ yet again to Pakistan as a senior American diplomat visited Islamabad.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells, who is on a visit to Pakistan, met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua here to discuss the bilateral, regional and global issues, officials said.

The US diplomat, the officials told The Nation, carried a strong message that Pakistan needed to cooperate with the US and accept its conditions for a bilateral engagement.

“She repeated the ‘do a lot more’ demand of the US President (Donald Trump). Pakistan said it was doing beyond its means already,” said one official.

He added: “The US wants documentary evidence that Pakistan is acting against all the terror networks along the Pak-Afghan border.”

Another official said Pakistan had assured the US that it will continue acting against all the terror groups without discrimination.

A statement released by the foreign ministry after the meeting said the two sides reviewed bilateral relations and discussed regional issues particularly Afghanistan.

“Both sides agreed that the momentum of the peace initiative unveiled in Kabul by President Ashraf Ghani and followed up in Tashkent needs to be carried forward. Mechanisms for return of refugees and strengthening border management were also discussed. Both sides also reiterated their firm commitments to act against all groups that target Pakistan and Afghanistan,” it said.

The foreign secretary, the statement said also “apprised the visiting delegation of the continued ceasefire violations by India that undermined stability of the region. Pakistan’s position that a comprehensive dialogue was the only way forward for civilised nations to resolve outstanding issues was reiterated.”

This is Ambassador Wells’ second visit to Pakistan this year aimed at continuing the conversation to strengthen bilateral relations and promote peace and security in the region, it said.

Noting that the US and Pakistan had a long track record of cooperation, Ambassador Wells emphasised the importance of working together to achieve the common objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. “The two sides agreed to continue bilateral engagements at all levels,” the statement said.

Yesterday, Pakistan also handed over a dossier to the embassy of Afghanistan in Islamabad. The dossier contains evidence of the involvement of Afghanistan based Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in the suicide bombing at a Pakistan army unit in Swat and the presence of TTP, Jamaatul Ahrar and other terrorist groups’ hideouts in the Afghan territory.

“The Afghan side was asked to take effective action against terrorist hideouts from where they have been financing, planning and undertaking cross-border terrorist attacks on Pakistani military posts, cities and towns,” said a foreign ministry statement.

Wells visit came as Pakistan is working to stop the US from going ‘too far’ amid Washington’s threats to tighten the noose on Islamabad.

Reports said President Donald Trump’s administration was considering to revoke Pakistan’s status of a major non-NATO ally and imposing political penalties for allegedly harbouring Afghan extremist elements.

In its report US Foreign Policy magazine said: “White House is now engaged in an internal debate about the tempo and scale of possible punitive steps against Pakistan. Some officials and military officers favour a hard line with Pakistan, maintaining that years of aid and accommodation have produced little in return. Amid growing frustration on Capitol Hill, Trump’s deputies are weighing unprecedented political penalties on Islamabad for harbouring Afghan militants waging war on the US-backed government in Afghanistan.”

The US, according to the report, was considering to permanently freeze US military aid that was suspended two months ago, and imposing visa bans or other sanctions on Pakistani government individuals. The US has already temporarily withheld the $ 255 million aid, which was part of a $ 1.1 billion aid package authorized in 2016 by the Congress.

This week, the US imposed sanctions on seven Pakistani companies over suspicion they had links to the nuclear trade, potentially hurting Pakistan’s plan to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The US Bureau of Industry and Security, Commerce imposed the sanctions on the Pakistani companies by placing them on its ‘Entity List.’ The companies had been “determined by the US government to be acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States”, the bureau said in a report.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been strained in recent years. The US alleges that Pakistan’s shelters some militant groups who were waging war in Afghanistan. Pakistan rejects the claim.

 

 

US delivers

strong message

of ‘do a lot more’

 

SHAFQAT ALI