Pakistan assures US of commitment to terror fight

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disembarking from his plane at the Nur Khan military airbase in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi yesterday. He was quietly greeted by a mid-level Pakistani Foreign Office official in a welcome devoid of the p
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disembarking from his plane at the Nur Khan military airbase in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi yesterday. He was quietly greeted by a mid-level Pakistani Foreign Office official in a welcome devoid of the pomp that usually marks high-level visits.PHOTO: REUTERS

PM Abbasi tells Tillerson it has produced results in fighting region's Islamist militants

ISLAMABAD • Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi yesterday reconfirmed Pakistan's commitment to the "war on terror" during a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying his country had "produced results" fighting the region's Islamist militants.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have frayed in recent years, with Washington accusing Islamabad of turning a blind eye or helping Afghan Taleban and Haqqani network militants who stage attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies doing so.

"We are committed in the war against terror," Mr Abbasi told Mr Tillerson as the two men sat facing each other at a long table.

"We have produced results. And we are looking forward to moving ahead with the US and building a tremendous relationship," added Mr Abbasi, who sat next to powerful military chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.

During a short part of the meeting open to the media, Mr Tillerson told the Pakistani delegation that the nuclear-armed nation was an important US ally in the region.

"(Pakistan is) important regionally to our joint goals of providing peace and security to the region and providing opportunity for greater economic relationship as well," Mr Tillerson said.

Mr Tillerson got a frosty reception when he arrived in Pakistan yesterday, with America's top diplomat quietly greeted by a mid-level Pakistani Foreign Office official at the military airport in the garrison city of Rawalpindi in a welcome devoid of the pomp that usually marks high-level visits. He was then driven in a convoy of Land Cruisers amid tight security to the US Embassy in Islamabad's diplomatic enclave, before scheduled meetings with Mr Abbasi and General Bajwa.

Mr Tillerson's visit, his first to Pakistan since becoming Secretary of State, comes months after US President Donald Trump angrily accused the South Asian country of harbouring "agents of chaos" who can attack Nato-led forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.

It follows on the heels of an unannounced stop in Afghanistan, where the US' top diplomat reiterated America's commitment to the country and warned that Washington has made "very specific requests" of Pakistan seeking to "undermine the support that the Taleban receives". Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of supporting militant groups, including the Taleban, believed to have links to Pakistan's shadowy military establishment who aim to use them as a regional bulwark against arch-nemesis India.

Meanwhile, Washington yesterday announced it was pushing for targeted sanctions against Myanmar officers involved in violence against Rohingya Muslims, while withdrawing invitations to senior members of the security forces to visit the US and ending travel waivers.

The move came after Mr Tillerson said the US holds Myanmar's military leadership "accountable" for the Rohingya refugee crisis, drawing a distinction with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government.

According to a statement, the State Department was "assessing authorities... to consider economic options available to target individuals associated with atrocities".

It added that the US had halted its consideration of travel waivers for senior Myanmar military leaders, and was weighing the targeting of individuals under the Global Magnitsky Act. The measure allows the US executive branch to impose visa bans and sanctions on individuals anywhere in the world responsible for committing human rights violations.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2017, with the headline 'Pakistan assures US of commitment to terror fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe