Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is saying the "right things", but his military leadership too needs to take the "right decisions", the Trump administration has said, hours after the UN Security Council designated JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.
Nearly 18 months after President Donald Trump ordered cutting off security aid to Pakistan, a senior US administration official told reporters that the US is trying to change Pakistan's policy of supporting terrorist groups. Noting the US' recognition of the ISI's links with its home-frown terrorist groups, the official said the US does not want to get involved in the country's internal politics and expects the Pakistan military to correct the situation.
"We support the civilian government. We support the nascent democratic system there. We support the fact that Prime Minister Khan says right things and appears to be trying to make some changes within Pakistan. But only time will tell if he is successful in doing that," he said. The senior administration official said Pakistan's military leadership too needs to take "right decisions and right steps". "So far, we do see support from the military to the direction that prime minister Khan seems to be going in," he said.
The Trump administration Wednesday credited Khan for his "helpful statements" on cracking down on terror outfits and some initial steps being taken. "We do appreciate that Pakistan is saying the right thing, has taken the initial step that we're looking for, but we reserve judgment because we have seen backpacking in the past," the official said. The official said the US wants to "reserve judgment" till it sees if the steps they are taking are actually irreversible.
Observing that only time will tell about Pakistan's future course of action, the US official said Khan as of now has made the right statement. "He is very public about wanting stability in the region, pointing out how important that is for Pakistanis to prosper and to have economic development which is one of his core campaign promises. He has directly related that goal to Pakistan being able to crack down on militancy within the border," the official said.
But in the past, the official pointed out, the US has seen Pakistan resorting to the familiar pattern of taking some temporary steps against terrorists and putting them under house arrest like they did with Hafeez Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, only to release them later and let them go back to operating as usual. "So, unfortunately, the track record (of Pakistan) is not good on this front. But we continue to remain hopeful and encouraged by the initial statements and some of the very initial steps that we have seen Pakistan taking," he said.
Referring to the UN designating Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) founder Azhar a "global terrorist", he said, "We think this designation is really critical and important for keeping Pakistan accountable to its commitment like the travel ban and asset freezes and other steps". They are now accountable to the international community. "It is too early to say whether Pakistan would indeed uphold its international obligation, but we remain hopeful," the official added. The JeM has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama suicide attack that killed 40 CRPF soldiers and led to a spike in military tensions between India and Pakistan.