- 'This is about Pakistan's sovereign choice,' said US official
- The official was part of US delegation during Rex Tillerson's visit
- Rex Tillerson had said Pak must act against terror groups in the country
The Trump administration has defined a "very important role" for Pakistan, the official said, and now it's up to them to work with the US or not. "This is about Pakistan's sovereign choice. This is not about America giving dictation. We see Pakistan as a very important country in the region, but it's up to them whether or not they want to work with us on this strategy. And if they don't, as the Secretary said, we'll adjust accordingly," Alice G Wells, the acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who was part of the US delegation Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's trip to the region told reporters.
Ms Wells said that the Taliban leadership and the Haqqani Network still retain an ability to plan, recuperate, and reside with their families in Pakistan. "In 2014, we saw Pakistan make a strategic decision to defeat the terrorist groups that were targeting the government of Pakistan. And with great loss of life, great courage, great vision about what needed to be done, Pakistan has fought that battle and now has regained control and sovereignty over the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) territories," she said.
The US would like to see the same strategic commitment brought against other militant groups, whether they are operating on Pakistan's soil, whether they are directed against India or Afghanistan, she added.
The US Secretary during his tour of the region underscored that the strategy is an opportunity; since Pakistan, with the exception of Afghanistan, has the most to benefit from a stable and peaceful country next door. He noted that at several critical junctures over the last 70 years, the US has worked very closely with Pakistan.
"But under the strategy, we've laid out some very specific expectations of how Pakistan can create the conditions that will help bring the Taliban to the table. And I think the longstanding relationships with the militant and terrorist organisations threaten Pakistan's stability," Ms Wells said.
Over the last four years Pakistan and the Taliban both thought the US was withdrawing, she said and added, "What the South Asia strategy gives them, is certainty that we're there, we're not going to let the Taliban win, that we're prepared to invest the resources that will be, at a minimum, a stalemate but a stalemate increasingly in the government's favour."
(With inputs from PTI)