Mattis tells Pakistan to 'redouble' counterterrorism efforts in first visit

Mattis tells Pakistan to 'redouble' counterterrorism efforts in first visit
© Getty

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump defends border deployment amid fresh scrutiny Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Lawmakers struggle with how to punish Saudi Arabia | Trump regrets not visiting Arlington for Veterans Day | North Korea deports detained American Ousted Bolton aide says it was 'an honor' to serve Trump administration MORE on Monday pushed Pakistan to “redouble” its efforts to fight terrorism, according to a Pentagon statement.

In his first trip to Pakistan as Defense secretary, Mattis met Monday with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister of Defense Khurram Dastgir Khan, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar.

“The secretary emphasized the vital role that Pakistan can play in working with the United States and others to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that brings stability and security to the region,” chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement after the meetings. “The secretary reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country.”

President Trump’s strategy to wind down the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan includes pressuring Pakistan to crack down on terrorist safe havens in its borders.

Pakistan denies that it provides safe haven to terrorists, often pointing to the operation launched in 2014 to clear groups such as the Haqqanis from the Waziristan border region with Afghanistan.

But the top U.S. general in Afghanistan said recently he has seen no change in behavior from Pakistan, despite Trump’s insistence for it to do more on terrorism. 

“Pakistani leadership has come to Kabul and met with [Afghan] President [Ashraf] Ghani,” Gen. John Nicholson told reporters in a briefing last week. “They identified certain steps that they were going to take. We've not yet seen those steps play out.”

Mattis said ahead of his Monday meeting that he was going to work on finding common ground with the Pakistanis.

“We know we have some common ground,” Mattis told reporters traveling with him Sunday. “They have lost hundreds, thousands of their troops killed and wounded by terrorists. They have lost hundreds, thousands of their innocent people murdered and wounded by terrorists.”

Mattis also said he expects to see Pakistan’s denouncements of terrorism reflected in policy.

“We have heard from Pakistan leaders that they do not support terrorism. So I expect to see that sort of action reflected in their policies,” he told reporters traveling with him Friday.

After Abbasi and Mattis met Monday, a statement from Abbasi’s office said he spoke about recent counterterrorism operations and pledged that Pakistan "would continue to conduct intelligence based operations all over the country,” according to The Associated Press.

The statement added that Abbasi appreciates "the U.S. resolve not to allow the use of Afghan soil against Pakistan."

Mattis’s stop in Pakistan was part of four-day regional trip that also included stops in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.