Pakistan's status as a privileged US ally is in question: Rex Tillerson

VIDEO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned on Tuesday (Aug 22) that Pakistan's privileged status as a major non-Nato US ally could be in question if it continues to give safe haven to extremists.

"We have some leverage," Tillerson told reporters, "in terms of aid, their status as a non-Nato alliance partner - all of that can be put on the table."

Pakistan is one of 16 countries to currently enjoy "major non-Nato ally" status, which is not a mutual defence pact like the Atlantic alliance, but allows close military cooperation.

Pakistan denied the accusation that it gives safe harbour to terrorists and rejected the US' criticism as "disappointing".

“No country in the world has suffered more than Pakistan from the scourge of terrorism, often perpetrated from outside our borders. It is, therefore disappointing that the US policy statement ignores the enormous sacrifices rendered by the Pakistani nation in this effort,” said a statement from the country’s Foreign Office.

On Monday, President Donald Trump sternly rebuked Pakistan for supporting groups like the Taliban and the Haqqani network, which launch cross-border raids on US and Afghan troops.

And he suggested Pakistan will suffer consequences if it does not get behind a renewed US effort to help Kabul repel the Taleban and force them to negotiate a political settlement.

On Tuesday, Tillerson met journalists to brief them on the details of the strategy, and to lay out what Islamabad might expect if it does not fall into line.

"The President has been clear that we are going to attack terrorists wherever they live," Tillerson said.

"We have put people on notice that if you're providing safe haven to terrorists, be warned - we are going to engage those providing safe haven and ask them to change what they are doing."

And Tillerson added that, aside from the Afghan people, Pakistan has more to gain "than any other nation" from an end to the fighting.