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Strategy seeks to pressure Taliban, Pakistan: US

Strategy seeks to pressure Taliban, Pakistan: US

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Aug 23, 2017 - 12:26

WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The entire effort of President Donald Trump in announcing his new Afghan policy was intended to put pressure on the Talibaninfo-icon and have them understand that they would never win a battlefield victory, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday.

“I think the president was clear this entire effort is intended … to have the Taliban understand: You will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one, but neither will you. And so at some point we have to come to the negotiating table…” Tillerson said.

He told reporters at a State Department news conference: “Now, this is a regional approach and part of why this effort took as long as it did is we chose not to just focus on Afghanistaninfo-icon, but we undertook a fairly comprehensive review of our relationships with Pakistaninfo-icon and India. 

“And we see this approach as requiring an integration of all three of those strategies, and use Pakistan, India to also bring pressure to bear on the situation in Afghanistan,” he said.

“Pakistan in particular can play an important role here, certainly in delivering the Taliban to the negotiating table.  Pakistan has suffered acts of terrorism, their citizens have suffered acts of terrorism as – I think as dramatic as any we’ve seen anywhere.  And we stand ready to help Pakistan address terrorist organizations inside of their country, but they must – they must adopt a different approach themselves,” he said. 

Tillerson said Pakistan and the US historically had very good relationships, but over the last few years, there has been a real erosion in the confidence between the two governments. 

“There’s been erosion in trust because we have witnessed terrorist organizations being given safe haven inside of Pakistan to plan and carry out attacks against U.S. servicemen, US officials, disrupting peace efforts inside of Afghanistan.” 

Pakistan must adopt a different approach and the US was ready to help them protect themselves against these terrorist organisations, but certainly to begin to end their attacks that were disrupting efforts at peace, he said. 

“We are going to be conditioning our support for Pakistan and our relationship with them on them delivering results in this area.  We want to work with Pakistan in a positive way, but they must change their approach,” Tillerson said.

Afghanistan, he said, could choose its form of government that best suited the needs of its people – as long as it rejected terrorism, never provided territory in Afghanistan to provide safe havens for terrorists, and accommodated all of the groups represented inside of Afghanistan, ethnic groups and others. 

“How they want to organise themselves is up to them.  But we have to recognize that their culture is a tribal culture, and their history accommodates the nature of those relationships. There’s no reason their form of government cannot accommodate that as well,” he said.

“So, we want to facilitate a reconciliation peace process, and we will facilitate them coming to some conclusion around how they want to govern themselves.  That’s really the essence of the strategy,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson hinted Pakistan’s non-NATOinfo-icon ally is in question. “I think we have some leverage that’s been discussed in terms of the amount of aid and military assistance we give them, their status as a non-NATO alliance partner.  All of that can be put on the table.” 

But at the end of the day, Pakistan had to decide what was in its best long-term interest from a security standpoint for themselves and for their people, the secretary of state continued.

“Quite frankly, as I evaluate Pakistan’s current situation, if I were the Pakistan Government, I would have growing concerns about the strength of the Taliban and other organizations inside of Pakistan who seem to be growing their numbers and their presence to the point that at some point they become a real threat to the stability of the Pakistani Government itself,” Tillerson said.

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