Washington: Asserting that Pakistan must target all militant groups, including those that target its neighbours, the US has said it is not planning any sanctions against the country for not taking actions against terrorist groups.
“Suggestive of any kind of sanctions, we’re not there,” the State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference.
He was responding to a query on a recent statement by the former US Ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad that the US now needs to seriously consider the option of imposing sanctions against Pakistan.
“I don’t think we’re even at that point,” Toner said. He emphasized that the US has made it very clear that Pakistan needs to go after all the terrorist groups operating in the country over the terrorist attacks, which includes Mumbai attacks. “We’ve been very clear that we want to see accountability and justice in the case of the Mumbai attacks,” Toner told reporters.
“There were American citizens who lost their lives in those terrible attacks. We’ve long encouraged and pushed for greater counter-terrorism cooperation, and that includes the sharing of intelligence between India and Pakistan in that regard,” Toner said in response to a question.
“We’re making our concerns clear that they need to go after all the terrorist groups that are operating or seeking haven in their soil. And that’s been our clear objective for a long time now. We’ve seen progress but we need to see more,” he added.
“I mean, we continue to have, conversations with the highest level of the government of Pakistan and our basic point in all these conversations is that Pakistan must target all militant groups , including those that target Pakistan’s neighbours and eliminate all safe havens and that is what I was trying to convey to you as well,” he said.
What we’ve received in terms of response from Pakistan authorities is that they have assured of their intentions to do so. We have been encouraged by some of the steps they’ve taken, some of their recent counterterrorism operations along the border of Afghanistan and we’re going to continue to work with them to increase those efforts and apply more pressure on these groups,” he said.
Referring to the remarks made by the Secretary of State John Kerry+ during his recent trip to India and Bangladesh, Toner said the US has had very frank conversations with Pakistan’s leadership and military leadership about the need to focus more efforts on those terrorist groups, all the terrorist groups rather, that are operating from within Pakistani soil, or territory rather.
“We continue to have that discussion with them. We have seen some efforts to make progress in that regard. We’re going to continue to have those conversations with them as we move forward and it is in Pakistan’s interest, it’s in Afghanistan’s interest to go after these terrorist groups, to route them out and to destroy them,” he said.
“The ultimate goal is we want to see peace and stability in the region, and so that is going involve efforts on Pakistan’s part as well as the ability of Afghanistan and the Afghan government to provide the stability and security to its own people. And that is our efforts we are focused on,” Toner said.