Stop differentiating between terrorists, US tells Pakistan

18 April 2017

On a day the Trump administration announced that it is going to "abandon the era of strategic patience" practiced by previous US governments, a top American official arrived in Islamabad to tell Pakistan that it should stop using terrorism to pursue its goals.

H R McMaster"As all of us have hoped for many, many years, we have hoped that Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after (militant) groups less selectively than they have in the past and the best way to pursue their interest in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy and not through the use of proxies that engage in violence," US National Security Advisor Gen H R McMaster, who has a reputation of blunt speaking, told his Afghan hosts in Kabul, shortly before his arrival in Islamabad on Monday. New Delhi is expected to be his next stop.

The US Embassy in Islamabad confirmed that it was the message McMaster conveyed to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his entourage during talks, saying in a statement that the US NSA expressed appreciation for Pakistan's democratic and economic development but also "stressed the need to confront terrorism in all its forms".

The Pakistani statement about the engagement, however, said Sharif "reaffirmed his commitment to a peaceful neighbourhood and apprised the US NSA of the steps taken by Pakistan to reach out to both India and Afghanistan."

There was no mention of the spat over Pakistan's incarceration of the former Indian Navy personnel Kulbhushan Jadhav on spying charges that has set back ties between the two countries.

The statement from Sharif's office said he "reiterated his firm conviction on sustained dialogue and meaningful engagement as the only way forward to resolve all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including the Kashmir dispute" and that "he welcomed President Trump's willingness to help India and Pakistan resolve their differences particularly on Kashmir and noted that this could go a long way in bringing sustainable peace, security and prosperity in the region".

Trump has spoken occasionally and off-handedly about helping bring about peace between India and Pakistan while professing that no relationship is more important to him than the one with New Delhi.

A senior Trump cabinet official, US ambassador to UN Nikki Haley, went so far as to say the US may play a pro-active role in de-escalating tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi (See: Trump may seek role in Indo-Pak disputes: Nikki Haley).

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