Mattis’s visit

December 6, 2017

The arrival of United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis to Islamabad was preceded by a clear warning to Pakistan by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Pompeo in a statement warned Pakistan that United States will act against alleged militant sanctuaries inside Pakistan if Pakistan fails to take action itself. The threat is a clear negation of Pakistan’s stance which has time and against stated in clear terms that there are no militant sanctuaries inside Pakistan and Pakistan has acted against all militant elements. The Trump administration since the announcement of the new Afghan policy back in August this year has been mounting pressure on Pakistan and has repeatedly issued harsh statements asking Pakistan to act against alleged militant safe havens on its territory.
The visit of Mattis that followed the statement from Pompeo has resulted in the same exchange once more. A statement released by the U.S. embassy said that Mattis recognized Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism and emphasized the vital role that Pakistan can play in working with the United States and others to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that brings stability and security to the region. However the Secretary just like the CIA Director also reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country. As the U.S. stuck to its narrative the Pakistani government has also reiterated its stance. In the meeting with Mattis, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that there are no safe heavens in Pakistan and the entire nation was committed to its resolve on eradicating terrorism once and for all in all its forms and manifestations. Army Chief Qamar Bajwa echoed similar sentiments saying that Pakistan has eliminated safe havens from its soil but is prepared to look into the possibility of miscreants exploiting its hospitality to the Afghan Refugees to the detriment of Afghan brothers. The stalemate with regards to action against militants between the U.S. and Pakistan has been lingering on for long now. Pakistan has time and again suffered due to terror attacks originating from Afghan territory but has been repeatedly blamed by the U.S. for not acting against alleged terrorists on its soil. In the presence of such a stark stance it is hard to see how the two sides will progress with regards to long term peace in Afghanistan. Despite Pakistan’s utmost desire of peace in Afghanistan so far it has been frustrated due to lack of cooperation by Afghanistan and the U.S. administration that is a major stakeholder in Afghanistan. The latest U.S. demand of do more with the rebranded term of redoubling efforts is contrary to Pakistan’s principled stand on the issue.