Secretary of Defense James Mattis previewed his strategy to deal with an intransigent Pakistan Saturday in a gaggle with Pentagon reporters while on his way to the country.
“The first thing I’m going to do is do some listening, like I always do. My goal is to find common ground,” Mattis opened, adding that he did not believe prodding the government was useful. “That’s not the way I deal with issues. I believe that we work hard on finding the common ground, and then we work together, so that’s the approach I want to take.”
Mattis defended the U.S. record on trying to get Pakistan to end its support for terrorist groups in Afghanistan saying he “wouldn’t characterize everything over the past 16 years as failures. There is clearly an abundance of areas where we have to double down, and I am optimistic at this point that because of what our adversaries, our mutual enemies are doing, that we can find ways to work together.”
The defense secretary’s comments follow top U.S. General in Afghanistan John Nicholson’s recent declaration that Pakistan has not implemented any significant changes in its support for violent terrorist organizations in recent months despite President Donald Trump’s new declared South Asia strategy.
Trump made changing Pakistani support for terrorist organizations a lynchpin of his Aug. 21 address on South Asia. “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor terrorists,” Trump declared in his address
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