Washington Must Accept ‘Defeat' in Afghanistan to Move Forward — Pakistan
The Pakistani government responded to US assertions that it supports terrorist groups Thursday by saying the never-ending US war in Afghanistan should not be blamed on Islamabad.
"Their failures over the past 16 years in Afghanistan [are] before them," Pakistan's Dawn news outlet quoted Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif as saying in an address to the Pakistani Senate. "There will only be room for improvement if Washington accepts their defeat, their failures in Afghanistan," Asif said. The US is "not ready to accept this."
"We will not compromise on our sovereignty, our dignity. Our relations with the US should be based on self-respect and dignity," the diplomat said.
"Pakistan needs to, I think, take a clear-eyed view of the situation that they are confronted with in terms of the number of terrorist organizations that find safe haven inside of Pakistan," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday. Islamabad frowns on comments like these as lecturing, a charge Tillerson was compelled to respond to on Friday.
"There's nothing achieved by lecturing, but we should be very clear about expectations and what we're asking," the US diplomat said Friday during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
Tillerson continued, "We're asking you to do this; we're not demanding anything," he said, addressing the Pakistani government. "You're a sovereign country. You'll decide what you want to do, but understand this is what we think is necessary. And if you don't want to do that, don't feel you can do it, we'll adjust our tactics and our strategies to achieve the same objective a different way."
John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer who led counterterrorism operations in Pakistan in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, explained the situation on Friday's Loud & Clear broadcast.
"The Trump administration is demanding that the Pakistanis step up military activities against the Taliban, and against the Pakistani Taliban, which is resonant in the north of Pakistan," the intelligence expert said. "Presumably, if the Pakistani government doesn't do that to the satisfaction of the Trump White House, the Trump White House will do exactly what [George W.] Bush and [Barack] Obama did: launch military or paramilitary operations deeper into Pakistani territory," he said.
Such operations would be "illegal," international legal expert Christopher Black told Loud & Clear, adding that if Pakistan does not bend to Washington's will, they will likely go on anyway, disrupting Pakistan's sovereignty in the process.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Alice Wells, acting assistant secretary of state for South Asia, said Washington looks forward to seeing Pakistan take concrete steps "over the next few weeks and months."