Pakistan will do what is in its self-interest, says US
State Department spokesman refuses to contemplate on what kind of action Pakistan is readying against terrorists: Says Islamabad has the right to defend itself: US, Pakistan have shared interest in ensuring Taliban live up to their commitments
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The United States has said that Pakistan will do what is in its self-interest while dealing with the issue of terrorism but refused to contemplate what kind of action Pakistan could take, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Thursday.
In his daily briefing on Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Pakistan, under self-defence, will act when appropriate.
The spokesperson emphasized that the Taliban should ensure that terrorist groups such as ISIS, TTP and Al-Qaeda are not a threat to the security of the region.
Ned Price said that Pakistan is America’s closest security partner, the Pakistani people have suffered huge losses due to terrorist attacks. He said the terrorist groups present on the Pak-Afghan border and in Afghanistan have taken the lives of many Pakistanis.
Ned Price said they cannot comment on what kind of action Pakistan can take, as many lives have been lost due to cross-border violence.
Ned Price said Ayman al-Zawahiri was in Afghanistan, the US took action against him, and they will take unilateral action if necessary to deal with the threat.
He further said Pakistan and the United States have a common interest that the Taliban fulfill their promises.
Here are excerpts from Ned Price’s news briefing concerning Pakistan and Afghanistan:
QUESTION: Depriving Afghan people from their basic rights is a big problem, but harboring the terrorist groups is another major concern, especially for the neighboring countries. What measures are being taken to take out the hideouts of – terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan?
MR PRICE: So this is a concern for us as well. When I made the point to Matt that the Taliban has proven itself unable or unwilling to fulfill the commitments it has made, this is certainly one of those commitments. In the US-Taliban agreement, the Taliban made a commitment to see to it that international terrorists would not operate freely within Afghanistan. The United States has in the operation that we undertook a few months ago that eliminated the leader of al-Qaida – who was living inside, in Kabul – made very clear that the Taliban had not lived up to that commitment.
But this is a shared concern we have. It is a concern we share with Afghanistan’s neighbors, including Pakistan. In this case, Pakistan, of course, has suffered tremendous violence owing to the threats that are – that have in many cases emanated from Afghanistan. So we are committed to working with partners, but President Biden also has a commitment to act unilaterally if and when necessary as we did just a few months ago with Ayman al-Zawahiri to take out threats that emerge in Afghanistan that potentially present a threat to the United States, to our allies, and to our interests.
QUESTION: The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan threatens the top Pakistani political leadership, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. I hope you have seen their statement?
MR PRICE: I have, and we condemn any threat of violence from any group, but certainly a threat of violence like this from a terrorist group like the TTP.
QUESTION: Pakistan is planning a massive operation against Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, their hideouts in Pak-Afghan border areas. So what kind of assistance the United States can offer to help Pakistan in that kind of operation?
MR PRICE: With this, I think it’s important that we not lose sight of the bigger picture. Terrorism remains a scourge that has taken, as I said before, so many Pakistani, Afghans, and other innocent lives. The United States and Pakistan do indeed have a shared interest in ensuring that the Taliban live up to the commitments and that terrorist groups like ISIS-K, like the TTP, like al-Qaida are no longer able to threaten regional security. But for questions regarding their plans, I would need to refer you to Pakistani authorities.
QUESTION: And finally, one more thing on the Taliban part, if you can go back. There’s a war of words between the Taliban and the Pakistani army these days. Have you taken note of it? What do you think – make out of this?
MR PRICE: We know that the Pakistani people have suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks. We know that the Taliban have made commitments to curtailing the ability of international terrorists to be able to operate on Afghan soil. We continue to call on the Taliban to uphold those counterterrorism commitments.
QUESTION: There is an impression being created in Pakistan that the US basically wants Pakistan to take some action against the terrorist hideouts on the border. Is there such encouragement?
MR PRICE: This is a threat that Pakistan itself faces, going back to what I was telling your colleague just a moment ago. Militants, terrorist groups operating in the border regions, operating inside Afghanistan, have claimed far too many Pakistani lives. Of course, Pakistan has every right to defend itself. This is ultimately, in some cases, a shared threat to the region, and it’s one we take very seriously, as do our Pakistani partners, of course.
QUESTION: But Pakistan – but the US is not, like, encouraging Pakistan to take such action? That’s – if I’m correct on that, the US is not encouraging that Pakistan should take action.
MR PRICE: Pakistan will do what’s in its self-interest, and it will take action when it deems appropriate based on the inherent right of self-defence.
QUESTION: But Pakistan has been saying the same thing for 20 years. When the US was there and more than hundred thousand NATO troops were there, Pakistan had the same concerns that these terrorists across the border conduct terrorist activities and then they go back. So how will the – if the US couldn’t do it along with the NATO forces, how can the Taliban keep an eye on such hideouts and – like, is it possible? Do you see something like that?
MR PRICE: It’s clear that this has been an enduring challenge. It’s been an enduring challenge for the United States, for NATO, but certainly for Afghanistan’s neighbors, who have often most frequently been the victims of attacks that have emanated from Afghanistan. Pakistan is a close partner, a close security partner. We work closely together to do what is appropriate to confront shared and mutual threats as well as shared opportunities, but I’m not going to speak to any plans or operations that the Pakistanis may be taking or contemplating.
QUESTION: Okay. Just one more thing on the same. If such thing were to happen, the US is aware that on both side of the border region, there are mostly Pashtun population, and this could lead to a severe warlike condition between this ethnicity as well. I’m sure the US is aware of that, right?
MR PRICE: I am just not going to weigh in on a hypothetical. Of course, too many Pakistanis have – the lives of too many Pakistanis have been taken as a result of cross-border violence. The terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan has in the past not only presented a threat to Pakistan but to the region and, in some cases, as we know all too well, well beyond. So these are questions for the Pakistani Government. We are a partner to Pakistan, but ultimately its decisions are its decisions.