US Secretary of State John Kerry’s move to pull up Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session has shown Pakistan’s weakened position on the international stage. Kerry reportedly lambasted Sharif for allowing terrorists to operate from the country and asked him to ensure “greater counter-terrorism operations within Pakistan.” Also, according to statements by US state officials, Sharif was told that the US has seen some progress on the counter-terrorism front but they want to see more from them.
Pakistani media has also been critical of Sharif for his inability to counter the situation and leaning towards a bullish US for handling its own regional security issues. Kerry met Sharif in New York where the latter was accompanied by his advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry among others.
US State Department Deputy Spokesperson said after Sharif’s meeting with Kerry: “We’ve seen some progress; we want to see more, and I think moving forward we’ll just continue to work closely and try to encourage greater counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan but also within the region.”
State Department Spokesperson John Kirby stated afterwards that Kerry “reiterated the need for Pakistan to prevent all terrorists from using Pakistani territory as safe havens, while commending recent efforts by Pakistani security forces to counter extremist violence.”
A readout of the meeting was issued by the Pakistani high commission in New York which revealed that Sharif had requested the “US Administration and Secretary Kerry to use his good offices to help in resolving bilateral issues between Pakistan and India.” Kerry met Sharif on the sidelines of the 71st session of the UNGA. The press note released by the government didn’t give away much about the discussions between the two leaders. However, some reports suggest that Kerry slammed the Pakistani premier over his inability to counter the terrorism threat emanating from Pakistan.
India’s continued tough stand against Pakistan has added to Sharif’s woes. Also, a recent bill introduced in the US Senate to declare Pakistan a terrorist state rubs salt to wounds.
During a US senate hearing this July, several lawmakers pulled up Pakistan for their inability to handle terror groups like the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Several members suggested imposing sanctions on Pakistan. However, during the subsequent hearing, the threat of sanctions was dropped. After Kerry’s meeting with Sharif, the pressure seems to have increased again. Adding to this, the absence of a dossier on India’s alleged excesses in Kashmir that Sharif promised to submit to the UN Secretary General shows the uncommitted nature to addressing the issue seriously.
Several commentators across the Pakistani media questioned Sharif and his government’s weak stance and repeated requests for help from the US and reiterated the difficulties Pakistan will face in reclaiming international support on various issues. According to the Dawn, Aizaz Chaudhry said in a press briefing that the “We believe that the US has a responsibility [to defuse the situation] and should play its role. We will keep asking US until they play that role; when and how, only they can decide.”
Even as India has launched a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan at the UN, Pakistan is finding it difficult to defend itself both at international fora and within the country.