WASHINGTON – The United States has brushed aside a suggestion to impose sanctions on Pakistan for not taking actions against all militant groups on its soil, saying it was “encouraged” by some of Islamabad’s recent counterterrorism operations along the border with Afghanistan.
“But the suggestion of any kind of sanctions, we’re not there,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at the daily press briefing on Tuesday.
He was responding to a question from an Indian journalist about a recent statement by the former US Ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, who is of Afghan origin, that Washington now needs to seriously consider slapping sanctions on Pakistan.
“I don’t think we’re even at that point,” Toner said, while rebuffing Khalizad’s proposal to punish Pakistan.
“We continue to have discussions with them (Pakistan),” he said. “We have seen some efforts to make progress in that regard.”
“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 Pakistani 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 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 to 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 the effort we are focused on,” Toner added.