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South-Asia strategy forced Pakistan to act against militants: Wells

South-Asia strategy forced Pakistan to act against militants: Wells

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May 21, 2020 - 14:31

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): US Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells has said that Washington’s South Asia Strategy marked a fundamental change in the US approach to Pakistaninfo-icon.

Addressing an online press conference she said through this strategy US held Pakistan accountable for the presence of terrorist and militant groups on its soil.

The strategy made clear that Pakistan needed to take decisive action against these groups, particularly those that support the conflict in Afghanistaninfo-icon and threaten regional stability. 

“President Trump’s suspension of security assistance in January 2018 demonstrated our resolve.  And since then, we’ve seen constructive steps by Pakistan to encourage the Talibaninfo-icon to advance the Afghan peace process,” she said. 

Pakistan has also taken initial steps toward curtailing other terrorist groups that threaten the region, such as arresting and prosecuting Lashkar-e Tayyiba leader Hafiz Saeed and beginning to dismantle terrorist financing structures. 

And as Pakistan’s commitment to peace in the region has grown, we are seeing initial growth in our U.S.-Pakistan relationship as well, particularly in trade.

When asked about her experience after long and hard work with Pakistan and Afghanistan and Pakistan’s sincerity to peace efforts in Afghanistan, Wells said

It was deeply in Pakistan’s interest to advance the peace process. 

“I think as Pakistani leaders like to say, Pakistan is second only to Afghanistan in being able to benefit from regional stability and peace.  And so we have seen over the last year solid cooperation between Ambassador Khalilzad and the Pakistani civilian and military leadership to encourage the Taliban to take steps to reach the negotiating table.  And certainly the advancement and improvement in the foundation for a stronger U.S.-Pakistan partnership is premised on our ability to work together constructively to advance peace. 

Referring to India Wells says it is a critical actor not just for our South Asia Strategy but also for the vision of the Indo-Pacific region that President Trump put forward in November of 2017. 

“Now, we have welcomed India’s emergence as a leading global power and as a net security provider in the region, and we have committed the United States to deepening the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership.”  “We are working more closely together than ever before to advance shared ambitions.  And you see this in the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, the reinvigoration of the Quad mechanism, the enhancement of military cooperation through joint exercises, increasing defense trade, increasing regional security support through our Counterterrorism Joint Working Group and Homeland Security Dialogue, and expanding cooperation in space.” 

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