Target all terrorist groups, Pentagon to Pakistan

WASHINGTONG D.C., Aug. 29, 2018 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford speaks during a press briefing with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (not in the picture) at the Pentagon, the United States on Aug. 28, 2018. The United States and Turkey plan to conduct combined patrols in northern Syria to enhance security there, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Ting Shen/IANS)

A day ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunfords stopover in Islamabad, the Pentagon has said that America will continue to press Pakistan to “indiscriminately” target all terrorist groups.

“Since January, we have consistently engaged with Pakistani military officials at the highest levels, based on both a shared commitment to defeat all terrorist groups that threaten regional stability and security, as well as on a shared vision of a peaceful future for Afghanistan,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt Col Kone Faulkner told The News International on Monday.

“We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network and we continue to call on Pakistan to arrest, expel or bring the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table.” The Pentagon official also clarifed: “The suspension of security assistance to Pakistan was announced in January 2018. CSF is included in the suspension and it remains in place.”

President Donald Trump had suspended all security related assistance to Pakistan early in 2018, alleging that Islamabad was not acting against militant groups as promised, New International reported. Following the presidential orders the White House froze around a billion dollar aid to Pakistan but had also proposed some $300 million in its new annual budget which was again tied to act against militant groups.

This has been a long demand from the Trump administration to come to terms with militant groups especially the Taliban to help initiate dialogue for a political settlement in Afghanistan. “Owing to lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia strategy the remaining $300 million was reprogrammed by Defence Department in the July 2018 timeframe for other urgent priorities before the funds expire on September 30.”

Pompeo and Dunford will be in Islamabad on Wednesday en route to India. They will meet the new Imran Khan led government to discuss issues of mutual concern in an attempt to gain much needed cooperation in Afghanistan at a time when violence is escalating and Trump’s year-old South Asia strategy is making little headway against the Taliban ahead of the mid-term poll in the US, the National reported.

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