CIA Director Mike Pompeo has warned Pakistan that if it does not eliminate the alleged safe havens inside its territory, the United States will do “everything we can” to destroy them.
As Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrives in Islamabad on Monday to persuade Pakistan to support the new US strategy for Afghanistan, the Trump administration is sending mixed signals to its estranged ally. The new strategy seeks Pakistan’s support to defeat the Taliban in the battlefield as Washington believes that only a defeat will force them to reconcile with the Afghan government.
Talking to journalists aboard his plane on Sunday, Secretary Mattis said he did not plan to “prod” Pakistan into action because he expected Islamabad to adhere to its promises to combat terrorism.
Jim Mattis hopes Islamabad will fulfil its promises to combat terrorism He disagreed with a journalist who suggested that Mr Mattis might end up “butting heads” with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa when he meets them in Islamabad on Monday on his first visit as the Pentagon chief.
The VOA radio quoted Mr Mattis as telling the journalist that this was not his style. “That’s not the way I deal with issues. I believe that we [can] work hard on finding common ground and then we work together.”
But the CIA director sent a harsher message when asked at the Reagan National Defence Forum in Simi, California, on Saturday how would the Trump administration persuade Pakistan to adhere to its new Afghan strategy. Mr Pompeo said: “You begin by seeking their assistance.”
The CIA director noted that Secretary Mattis was travelling to Pakistan to “make clear the president’s intent” and “will deliver the message that we would love you to do that. And that the safe haven inside of Pakistan has worked to the detriment of our capacity to do what we needed to do in Afghanistan”.
He then explained how the Trump administration would deal with the situation if Pakistan turned down Washington’s request to destroy safe havens. “In the absence of the Pakistanis achieving that, we are going to do everything we can to make sure that that safe haven no longer exists,” he said.
Since 2004, the CIA has conducted drone strikes in Fata and recent media reports have suggested that the Trump administration may expand those strikes to cover other areas inside Pakistan.
Mr Pompeo’s predecessor, Leon Panetta, also shared with the forum his experience of dealing with Pakistan as the Obama administration’s CIA chief.—INP