America could strike inside Pakistan, says Tillerson

U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson   | Photo Credit: AP

America may carry out drone strikes in Pakistan as part of its new regional strategy for stabilising Afghanistan, U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said a day after President Donald Trump announced a change in America’s approach to Pakistan. Aid to Pakistan, and its status of a non-NATO ally of the U.S are on the table as Washington begins to reset its ties with Islamabad, said Mr. Tillerson, who had spoken to Pakistan Prime Minster Shahid Khaqan Abbasi ahead of Mr. Trump’s announcement. Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif is expected to visit the U.S capital soon.


During the last year of the previous Obama presidency, a U.S drone strike inside Pakistan had killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour.

Mr. Tillerson said “India is emerging as a very important regional strategic partner” and America will seek its help in efforts to change Pakistan’s behavior. “The U.S. alone is not going to change this dynamic with Pakistan. India and Pakistan, they have their own issues that they have to continue to work through, but I think there are areas where perhaps even India can take some steps of rapprochement on issues with Pakistan to improve the stability within Pakistan and remove some of the reasons why they deal with these unstable elements inside their own country,” the top diplomat of the U.S said in response to a question whether America fears destabilization and collapse of Pakistan in the absence of American support.


Asked whether air strikes on targets in Pakistan will be part of the new strategy, Mr. Tillerson said: “We are going to attack terrorists wherever they live, and we have put people on notice that if you are harbouring and providing safe haven to terrorists, be warned. Be forewarned. And we’re going to engage with those who are providing safe haven and ask them to change what they’re doing and help us help them.”

He reiterated the point that the new strategy is to bear enough pressure on the Taliban to come to negotiating table and on Pakistan to change its behaviour. “I think the President was clear this entire effort is intended to put pressure on the Taliban, to have the Taliban understand: You will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one, but neither will you. And so at some point we have to come to the negotiating table and find a way to bring this to an end.”

Pakistan can play an important role in these efforts, and particularly in “delivering the Taliban to the negotiating table,” Mr. Tillerson said. U.S help for Pakistan will be conditional on Pakistan’s change in behaviour, he said. “We want to work with Pakistan in a positive way, but they must change their approach,” he said.

The Secretary said a new American Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan will be appointed this week. The post has been lying vacant for nearly ten months.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 1:57:51 AM |

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