US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the United States was concerned that extremist groups pose a threat to the “stability and security” of the Pakistan government.
Tillerson, who arrived in New Delhi late Tuesday after his visit to Islamabad, said the US was worried that too many extremist groups were finding safe havens inside Pakistan from which to launch attacks on other nations.
“Quite frankly my view — and I expressed this to the leadership of Pakistan — is we also are concerned about the stability and security of Pakistan´s government as well,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
“This could lead to a threat to Pakistan´s own stability. It is not in anyone´s interests that the government of Pakistan be destabilised.”
Tillerson´s visit to Pakistan came months after US President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of harbouring “agents of chaos” who could attack US-led NATO forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Tillerson´s warning followed an unannounced stop in Afghanistan Monday, where he reiterated US commitment to the country and warned that Washington has made “very specific requests” of Pakistan over militancy.
In New Delhi, the Secretary of State thanked his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the US in combating extremism in the region.
Tillerson, who arrived in Delhi Tuesday night less than four hours after meeting Pakistan’s top civil and military leadership in Islamabad, will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi later during his visit.
The Secretary of State earlier laid a wreath at a memorial to India´s independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi, removing his shoes to approach a pillar marking the spot where Gandhi was shot dead on January 30, 1948.
Support for efforts to bolster the Afghan government, China´s influence and other Asian security issues are expected to dominate talks in New Delhi, officials said.
Last week, Tillerson called for deeper cooperation with India in the face of growing Chinese influence in Asia and said Washington wanted to promote a “free and open” region led by prosperous democracies.
He also said Beijing sometimes flouted international conventions, citing the South China Sea dispute as an example.
India welcomed the comments, saying they “highlighted our shared commitment to a rule-based international order”.
On Tuesday, Tillerson met Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other high-ranking Pakistani officials during his tour to South Asia and the Gulf region.
During the meeting the US Secretary of State underscored Pakistan’s regional importance and expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.
PM Abbasi said that the country remains committed in the war on terror and is looking forward to moving ahead with the US and building a tremendous relationship.
The US Embassy, in a statement released, said the Secretary of State reiterated US President Trump’s message that Pakistan must increase its efforts to “eradicate militants and terrorists operating within the country”.
The meeting was attended by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, DG ISI Lt General Naveed Mukhtar, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir.
No terrorist safe havens in country: Khawaja Asif
Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said that Pakistan, in the meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, made it clear that no terrorist safe havens existed on Pakistani soil.
Speaking on Geo News programme Aaj Shahzaib Khanzada Kay Sath, the minister said that in the meeting with Tillerson earlier, the civil and military leadership presented a detailed narrative about its stance on the country’s war against terrorism.
In response to a question about the conditions put forward by the US for Pakistan, the minister said that Tillerson emphasised on the need for Pakistan to deal with the Haqqani Network and terrorists’ safe havens on its soil.
“Terrorist attacks are not planned on or executed from Pakistani soil, there are no terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, and we made this clear to the US delegation today,” Asif said, insisting that the Pakistani leadership firmly holds on to the stance that it is not protecting or supporting the Haqqani network.
“We emphasised again and again that their [US] assessment [about Pakistan] is wrong,” he said. “We are not responsible for the increase in the drug trade in Afghanistan or the increasing [Afghan] territory occupied by terrorists.”
“Our armed forces and law enforcement agencies have taken action, we have yielded results and will continue to do so but not for Afghan or American interest,” he said. “Our fight against terrorism is our own and the results we yield are our win.”