Tuesday, 31 March 2020

US to put pressure on Pakistan until it changes its Afghan policy: State Dept official

WASHINGTON: The United States will continue to apply pressure until Pakistan changes its policy towards regional peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The US State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary, Henry Ensher, said this while speaking at the Wilson Centre in Washington DC.

He said efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan are primary and a major area of policy divergence with Pakistan. “As long as that continues, we will continue to colour and take centre stage in the bilateral relationship,” he said.

Ensher said Pakistan’s new civilian government has the opportunity to fix bilateral relations and be “our partner in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan”. He added that by doing so, Pakistan will enable a mutually favorable relationship.

He also discussed the PTI-led government’s experience in governing Khber Pakhtunkhwa, which shares a border with Afghanistan. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan has a personal perspective on the prolonged conflict and quoted him as saying that peace in Pakistan depends on peace in Afghanistan.

The acting deputy assistant secretary said the TTP could use Afghanistan as a platform for attacks in Pakistan.

He appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in ending conflict through negotiated settlement with Talibans. “We know that Pakistan can’t deliver a deal by itself, but Pakistan can play a constructive role. We welcome additional measures that Pakistan government could take to increase the willingness of the Taliban leadership to negotiate,” he said.

Ensher explained that the US government encourages bilateral discussions between Pakistan and India to reduce tensions and improve relations between the two neighbours.

He said the US encourages Pakistan to address its issues, so that regional tensions are resolved and regional connectivity could improve. He said in order for Pakistan to get rid of its perception as a target and attract foreign development investment, it needs to prove that it contributes to peace and does not allow its territory or financial systems to be used by terrorists to undermine regional security.

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