Act tough on terror groups threatening India, Afghan:US to Pak

Last Updated 22 October 2010, 02:23 IST

"We will continue to work with Pakistan, try to find ways to put pressure on these extremist elements that represent a threat to Pakistan, a threat to Afghanistan, a threat to India, a threat to the region as a whole and a threat to the United States. So this security and counter- terrorism remains a significant part of our strategic dialogue," State Department spokesman P J Crowley told foreign reporters on issues being discussed at the ongoing US-Pak Strategic Dialogue here.

The Foreign Policy's blog 'The Cable' reported that the tough message was delivered personally by US President Barack Obama to the visiting Pakistani delegation during the meeting with National Security Advisor in-waiting Tom Donilon.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Pakistan Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani were among those who were present in the Pakistani delegation.

Obama dropped in on that meeting and stayed for 50 minutes, according to an official who was there, and personally delivered the tough message that other top US officials have been communicating since the Pakistani delegation arrived, The Cable reported this while confirming reports from various sources that the Obama Administration is taking a markedly tougher tone than before.

The Obama Administration, though having publicly apologised to Islamabad for the death of three Pakistani soldiers in a Nato helicopter attack, has taken a strong note of the Pakistani establishment's decision to block crucial NATO supply route to Afghanistan through the country.

This has been considered as a "purely blackmailing" tactics by the US, one official said, while Islamabad has been saying this as a sovereignty issue. Earlier Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropped in unannounced during an another meeting between Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke and Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Kayani.

"She delivered the message that Washington's patience is wearing thin with Pakistan's ongoing reluctance to take a more aggressive stance against militant groups operating from Pakistan over the Afghan border," The Cable reported.

A similar message was delivered to General Kayani in another high-level side meeting on Wednesday at the Pentagon, hosted by Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen, two senior government sources were quoted as saying by The Cable.

"The message being delivered to Pakistan throughout the week by the Obama team is that its effort to convince Pakistan to more aggressively combat groups like the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba will now consist of both carrots and sticks. But this means that the US administration must find a way incentivize both the Pakistani civilian and military leadership, which have differing agendas and capabilities," it said.

Crowley told journalists that the dropping of Clinton and Obama to these meetings was not incidental, but was well planned and scheduled in advance.
"It was planned," he said. "We have stressed in our dialogue with Pakistan, and again this week, that extremist elements within Pakistan's borders represents an existential threat to Pakistan itself. And in dealing with classic insurgencies, it will involve a variety of efforts ranging from security and military action to political action," Crowley said.

"So, to the extent that Pakistan can continue to take the kind of aggressive action that it has over the past year, as indicated by its offensives in Swat and South Waziristan. As we have emphasized, we would like to see Pakistan stay on the offensive and eliminate the safe havens that have impact within Pakistan and also impact next door in Afghanistan," he added.

Meanwhile, another set of American and Pakistani continued with their series of brain storming sessions to address core issues for Pakistan's long term economic and political development.

"These are all substantive meetings working to address core issues for Pakistan's long-term economic and political development," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on the day-two of the ongoing US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

A series of announcement is expected to be made today on the last day of the Strategic Dialogue, as officials of the two countries gave a final shape to those decisions including a fresh USD 2 billion security aid package to improve Pakistan's counter-terrorism capabilities. These are expected to be announced after the plenary session of the dialogue to be addressed by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A five working-group of the two countries yesterday held their meetings, which officials said shows the breadth of the relationship between the US and Pakistan.
"This morning, the energy, health, and law enforcement working groups met," Toner said.

"They discussed opportunities to support development of policy and plans to put Pakistan's energy sector on firm financial footing," he said, adding that these are all substantive meetings working to address core issues for long term economic and political development of Pakistan.

(Published 22 October 2010, 02:23 IST)

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