USA defense secretary meets Pakistan's prime minister


A day before the Mattis arrived in Islamabad, Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo had warned Pakistan that if it does not eliminate the alleged safe havens inside its territory, the U.S. would do "everything we can" to destroy them.

Last month U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Pakistan amid escalating diplomatic tensions between Washington and Islamabad following U.S. President Donald Trump's new policy for Afghanistan, which promises a broader role for India in the region, and accuses Pakistan of hosting terrorist safe havens.

Mattis met Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his brief visit to Pakistan this week.

"He said that Pakistan has done much more than its due share despite capacity constraints but shall remain committed for peace as a responsible member of worldwide community", a statement by the military wing of the Pakistani military said.

Talking to journalists aboard his plane yesterday, Mattis said he did not plan to "prod" Pakistan into action because he expected Islamabad to adhere to its promises to combat terrorism, Dawn reported. "We are not putting forward any demands to Pakistan, but we want to work together", the report said.

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Chances for resumption of the stalled process went further dim following death of Mullah Omer's successor, Mullah Mansur in a USA drone strike previous year in southwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border.

The visit, Mattis's first as defence secretary, came days after the United States voiced concerns following a Pakistani court's decision to free one of the alleged masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and as the USA pushes its longtime ally to do more to combat insurgents who allegedly use bases in Pakistan's tribal belt to target North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in Afghanistan. "We have eliminated safe havens from Pakistan's soil but are prepared to look into the possibility of miscreants exploiting Pakistan's hospitality to the Afghan Refugees to the detriment of our Afghan brothers", it said.

He added that in his long association with Pakistan, he was aware of the sacrifices rendered and lives lost in Pakistan's fight against terrorism.

The two countries share strained bilateral relationships.