“We (United States) encourage that kind of regional dialogue regarding counterterrorism efforts. We advocate for closer cooperation, certainly, between India and Pakistan to deal with terrorist threats in both their countries. Terrorism is obviously a reality in both countries, and they need to – in order to effectively confront it, they need to work together. And that’s something we’ve long encouraged,” said Mark C. Toner, Deputy Spokesperson of the US State Department.
In a routine media briefing, he supported forums of regional cooperation like Saarc to be important for dealing with some of the areas of disagreements and concerns between the two countries.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics of the back-and-forth except to say that we obviously believe that Pakistan needs to do all it can to confront all terrorists operating on its soil. We’ve seen it make progress; we want to see more progress on its part,” he added.
The United States believed that Pakistan has done enough to counter terrorist violence at the cost of precious lives of its civilians and forces.
“We believe that Pakistan has taken and is taking steps to counter terrorist violence, and certainly focusing on those groups that threaten Pakistani or Pakistan’s stability. They have – the military has shut down some of these safe havens. They’ve restored government control to parts of Pakistan that were used as terrorist safe havens for years,” said Toner, in reply to a question that whether the US government was satisfied with Pakistan as far as fighting against terrorism was concerned.
“These are important steps that have continued – or contributed, rather, to security interests in the region. And they’ve come at a cost of Pakistani lives lost.”
However, the US official clarified Pakistan must target all militant groups, including those that target Pakistan’s neighbours, and they must also close all safe havens.
The Pentagon on Thursday announced that it would not send Pakistan $300 million in military reimbursements for not taking sufficient action against few militants groups, mainly the Haqqani network.
The amount comes from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), a US Defence Department program to reimburse allies that have incurred costs in supporting counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. Pakistan is the largest recipient.
Toner in his beefing could not explain why the Pentagon had to reduce the funding, saying that the US Department of State would, at least, continue to provide assistance to the Pakistani people.
“They’re (Pakistan) going after groups, but selectively. We need to see them go after all groups, and as I just said, even those groups that might not threaten Pakistan itself but threaten its neighbours.)
Toner said, “We (US) have concern about terrorist safe havens inside Pakistan’s borders. We’ve urged the Government of Pakistan to address this and to pursue closer counterterrorism cooperation with Afghanistan against all groups that pose a long-term security threat to the region, not just to Pakistan.”
Referring to a China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan military leadership meeting hosted by China on Thursday, he said, “We (US) don’t view it as in any way counterproductive and we don’t view it as a zero-sum game that China pursues closer ties – certainly in the security field and certainly in the counterterrorism field – with Central Asian countries. And there’s a lot of work to be done, there’s a lot of problems to be addressed, so we certainly don’t view any effort to more closely coordinate among those countries – all of whom are affected by terrorism in the region – we don’t view that as a negative at all. In fact, we view it as a positive.”