Pakistan has responded to the latest salvo of accusations from the U.S. that it’s harboring terrorists by suggesting the U.S. military is not doing enough against terror havens in Afghanistan.
Following statements from President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton bashing Pakistan for harboring terrorists, the office of Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi released a rare statement in response.
“We would like to see effective and immediate U.S. military efforts to eliminate sanctuaries harbouring terrorists and miscreants on Afghan soil, including those responsible for fomenting terror in Pakistan,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement, Reuters reports.
Not only did Abbasi’s office refer to the Afghan Taliban, but it also stated that the Pakistan Taliban has outposts in Afghanistan, as well.
Further, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif complained that Washington was using Pakistan as a scapegoat to cover up its military failings in Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan is now America’s longest war, spanning 16 years, but despite the amount of time U.S. troops have spent in the region, the Taliban still either controls or contests about 40 percent of all districts in Afghanistan, according to a quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
While President Donald Trump has in the past pushed for troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, he recently was persuaded otherwise by his advisers and now has authorized a new troop surge, though it’s unclear how many troops will be sent over. However, Trump has emphasized that even though more troops will enter the war theater, he is not interested in “nation-building.”
“I share the American people’s frustration,” Trump said in his address on Afghanistan strategy. “I also share their frustration over a foreign policy that has spent too much time, energy, money — and, most importantly, lives — trying to rebuild countries in our own image instead of pursuing our security interests above all other considerations.”
Part of the strategy calls for a renewed toughness on Pakistan, which is believed to be providing safe haven for terror groups to launch attacks into Afghanistan. On a call with reporters Tuesday, Anton said that the U.S. is considering levying sanctions against Pakistan terror groups and also on any Pakistani officials with ties too close to these groups.
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