Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday reconfirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the “war on terror” during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying his country had “produced results” fighting the region’s Islamist militants. Relations between uneasy allies United States and Pakistan have frayed in recent years, with Washington accusing Islamabad of turning a blind eye or helping Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network militants who stage attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies doing so.
President Donald Trump has vowed to get tough with Pakistan unless it changed its behaviour, with U.S. officials threatening further reductions in aid and mooting targeted sanctions against Pakistani officials. Tillerson, on a tour of Asia and the Middle East, arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday afternoon and met with Abbasi, as well as Pakistan’s powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. “We are committed in the war against terror,”,” Abbasi told Tillerson, as the two men sat facing each other on a long table.
“We have produced results. And we are looking forward to moving ahead with the U.S. and building a tremendous relationship,” added Abbasi, who sat next to Bajwa. During a short part of the meeting available to media, Tillerson told the Pakistani delegation that the nuclear-armed nation was an important U.S. ally in the region. “(Pakistan is) important regionally to our joint goals of providing peace and security to the region and providing opportunity for greater economic relationship as well,” Tillerson said.
As well as support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, another sticking point in the relationship has been growing closeness by the United States to India, Pakistan’s arch-foe and neighbour. Tillerson said last week that the Trump administration wanted to “dramatically deepen” cooperation with New Delhi, partly to offset Chinese influence in Asia. Trump has also called for greater Indian role in Afghanistan. But this deepening in ties has alarmed Pakistan, which has rejected a greater political role for India for Afghanistan as a “red line” for Islamabad.