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US not contemplating military action inside Pakistan: Pentagon

US not contemplating military action inside Pakistan: Pentagon
February 02
11:25 2018

WASHINGTON: The US is not contemplating military operations inside Pakistan, the Pentagon has said, refuting reports in some Pakistani media amidst the Trump administration piling pressure on Islamabad to rein-in the Taliban and the Haqqani network terror groups.

Instead, the US is seeking Pakistan’s cooperation in various operations under the Trump administration’s new South Asia strategy, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff director Lt Gen Kenneth F McKenzie told reporters at a news conference yesterday.

“We actually don’t contemplate military operations inside Pakistan. On the other hand, we recognize, because the strategy is inherently regional and Pakistan is geographically located at a critical nexus of a lot of different things, Pakistan is a fundamental part of the strategy,” he said.

“Through a variety of measures, we look to gain Pakistani cooperation and assistance as we pursue operations in Afghanistan. But we are not planning to conduct military operations inside Pakistan,” he said in response to a question.

Under the new South Asia strategy, Pakistan has an opportunity to be a partner in fight against terrorism, Pentagon’s Chief Spokesperson Dana White said.

“It (Pakistan) has been a victim of terrorism, and it has supported terrorism. We are looking for Pakistan to actively join – it can do the things we need them to do to confront terrorism,” said White.

“So it’s an inflection point, it’s an opportunity, and we hope Pakistan will take it,” she said in response to another question.

The US has recently suspended about USD 2 billion in security aid to Pakistan for failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups and dismantle their safe havens in the country.

The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan came days after US President Donald Trump, in a New Year’s Day tweet, accused the country of giving nothing to the US but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven” to terrorists in return for USD 33 billion aid over the last 15 years.

White refuted the impression that there is connection between the recent spike in terror attacks in Kabul and the US’ decision to suspend aid to Pakistan.

“The Taliban is desperate. They’re murderous and they attack innocent civilians. As the General said, these were flashy but it shows their disparity,” she said.

“For every attack that is carried out, many, many, many are stopped, many are prevented from occurring. So to think that you are going to have exquisite timing on when an attack occurs is probably a bridge too far for the Taliban to have,” White said.

In the past two weeks, militants have stormed a luxury hotel in Kabul, bombed a crowded street and raided a military compound, killing over 100 people.

Afghan authorities have blamed the January 20 attack on the Intercontinental Hotel and Saturday’s ambulance bombing on the dreaded Haqqani Network, suspected to be linked to Pakistan’s military.

Both attacks have been claimed by the Taliban.

The head of Afghanistan’s spy agency Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai yesterday alleged that the attacks were “planned from across the border”.-PTI

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