Pentagon chief begins visit to Islamabad
The Minister of defence of the USA James Mattis has said it has no plans to “adjust” to Pakistan, but expects that the country will fulfill its promises in the fight against terrorism. Mattis said this before his first visit to Islamabad as the head of the Pentagon.
Speaking aboard a military aircraft, Mattis said he did not expect conflict at meetings Monday with Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Hakan Abbasi and the chief of staff of the Pakistani army by Kamar Javed with Bagboy.
“It’s not my style of solving problems, î said Mattis. I hope that we will be able to do a good job finding common ground and then work together”.
In October Mattis warned that the U.S. is ready “again” to work with Pakistan before taking “any necessary measures” in connection with the alleged support of militants Islamabad.
However, on Sunday Mattis stated that he will focus on trying to find “more common ground, listening to each other without manifestations of militancy”.
Within ten years, the US accuse Pakistan of harboring terrorists or having links with terrorist organizations such as Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban who attack the coalition forces of NATO in neighboring Afghanistan.
Islamabad denies the charges, saying that Washington is trying to make Pakistan a scapegoat for its own failures in Afghanistan, where the United States are still at an impasse after 16 years of war.
Before the visit of Mattis and other members of the administration trump has taken a tougher public stance against Pakistan.
Speaking at a defense forum on Saturday, the Director of the CIA Mike Pompeo said: “We intend to do everything possible to shelters” if Pakistan does not heed the admonitions of the USA concerning militants.
Since 2004, the CIA strikes using drones in Northwest Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan. These attacks, mainly directed against al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban.
According to media reports, the United States study the possibility of extending these attacks, as well as a number of other measures.
Other options include lowering the status of Pakistan as one of the main allies outside NATO, or the imposition of sanctions against individual Pakistani leaders suspected of having links with the Taliban.
But any action will not be taken at least for several weeks, suggests an expert on South Asia, Michael Kugelmann from the Woodrow Wilson Center.
“I think that the administration wants to give Pakistan more time to see how they react to various requirements of the USA concerning fight against terrorists,” he says.
According to Kugelmann, one of the most likely responses of the United States, is expanding not only the geographic scope of the war with the use of drones, but also the extension of the purposes for which U.S. strike.
“I think we can see how the US is trying to cause a big blow to the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban, especially in the sparsely populated provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he says.
The administration trump also threatened to stop providing aid to Pakistan. Since 2002, the United States provided assistance to Pakistan amounting to more than $ 33 billion. However, in recent years this assistance has fallen dramatically.
In case of deterioration of US relations also have much to lose. Pakistan controls the routes of American military supplies to landlocked Afghanistan to the sea and could block them, as has already happened in 2011. The United States also wanted Pakistan has reduced the pace of nuclear modernization, improved relations with India and became involved in a struggle with Islamic militants.
However, according to a senior researcher of the Brookings institution Michael O Hanlon, despite the risks, Washington, it seems, is running out of patience.
“For many years we harbored the hope that the Pakistanis will change their point of view on Afghanistan and our role in this country, he says. But these expectations no longer prevail. So, with this in mind, I believe that we are closer to some… more rigid methods”.
Mattis, who in the course of his regional tour will also be visiting Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait, did not elaborate on possible U.S. actions. However, he said that the situation requires urgent attention.
“You can always talk about the urgency when we are talking about 39 countries and Afghanistan whose troops are involved in a long war with human victims”, – he said.