The Trump administration will not shy away from taking tougher steps if required to convince Pakistani leaders that it is in their interest to crackdown on terrorist groups, a senior US official said.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reporters, said the administration thinks that not having a timeline for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will refrain Pakistan from doing the hedging it has previously done.
“We think their continued support to some of these groups is because there’s so much uncertainty about the US commitment to the region,” the official said when asked about Pakistan’s response to the new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.
President Donald Trump laid out his South Asia policy on Tuesday, reversing his stand on a hasty withdrawal of troops.
He warned Pakistan of consequences if it continues to provide safe havens to terrorists and sought an enhanced role for India to end America’s longest war and bring peace in the war-torn country.
The administration official said the new Afghanistan strategy was a departure from how the US previously dealt with Pakistan.
“This administration will not shy away from some more tougher steps if they have to, to try to convince Pakistani leaders that it’s in their own interest to crack down on these groups,” a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call.
“We will take up our issues, sensitive issues with Pakistani privates, so I’m not going to get into great detail on the actual tool that the US will employ with the strategy on Pakistan,” the official said.
“While Pakistan is an important partner, for achieving our priorities in the region it also must take decisive action against militant and terrorist groups that are a threat to US interests and the region more broadly,” the official asserted.
The official said Pakistan has much to gain by partnering the US in the region. “But it also has much to lose if it fails to take adequate steps to counter terrorist groups.”
“It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate fully that it is willing to assist the US in its core counterterrorism goals in the region,” the official said.
Responding to questions, the official said Trump was determined to not allow terrorists exists in the region, but did not say if it meant those across the Afghan border in Pakistan.
“I would simply say that the president made clear that he’s not gonna allow terrorist haven to exist anywhere and he’s going to give to all the tools that are necessary to our troops to be able to fight the enemy,” the official said.