Hindustan Surkhiyan Desk: There is unlikely to be any changes in America’s policy on suspension of aid to Pakistan until it makes substantial progress against terrorists and their safe havens, the Trump administration has told Islamabad as the two countries try to reset their strained ties. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, during their meetings with Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi here, are understood to have told the Pakistani leadership that in its assessment the US does not see any changes on the ground when it comes to taking actions against terrorists operating from its soil. Given Pakistan’s influence over the Taliban, the Trump administration also wants Islamabad to bring them to the peace table. Notably, the State Department till late in the night had refrained from issuing any readout of the meeting between Qureshi and Pompeo, which is understood to have lasted for 20 minutes at their Foggy Bottom headquarters.
The White House normally does not issue a readout of the meeting that its National Security Advisor has with foreign leaders. Qureshi and Pompeo did appear for a hand-shake photo op before the meeting, during which they did not issue opening remarks. According to informed sources familiar with the development, the US side is upset because of Qureshi’s faux pas about handshake he had with President Donald Trump during a luncheon in New York, which he described to the media as meeting.
Meanwhile in a readout of the meetings, the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington said that Qureshi had a wide range of discussions with both Pompeo and Bolton which included among others bilateral and regional issues. Qureshi said that close engagement between Pakistan and the US had always been mutually beneficial and a factor for stability in South Asia. He stressed that, going forward, a broad-based and structured framework for dialogue would best serve the two countries’ shared interests, the statement said.
Noting that Pakistan and the US share a common desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region at large, Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s support for a political settlement in Afghanistan, saying use of force had failed to deliver results. Qureshi told Pompeo that “peace in South Asia, which was a common goal for both the US and Pakistan, would remain elusive until all disputes, including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, are resolved”.
Pompeo, according to the embassy statement, said the US looked forward to working with the new government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan in implementing its reform agenda. “In the context of achieving stability in South Asia, Qureshi briefed his US interlocutor about India’s aggressive posturing in the region. “Qureshi underscored that, on its part, Pakistan remained committed to engaging India in a comprehensive peace dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” the statement added.
The ties between the two countries strained after Trump, while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in August last year, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos” that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists. Last month, the Trump administration cancelled USD 300 million in military aid to Islamabad for not doing enough against terror groups active on its soil.