Reiterating the US support on the issue of terrorism, the State Department on Thursday again made it clear that Pakistan had every right to defend itself against the “enduring challenge”.
“Of course, Pakistan has every right to defend itself. This is ultimately, in some cases, a shared threat to the region, and it’s one we take very seriously, as do our Pakistani partners, of course,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told a daily press briefing.
He was responding to a question about the terrorist hideouts in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The latest statement came a day after the United States said Pakistan enjoyed a right to defend itself from terrorism as the country has suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks.
On Thursday, when asked whether Washington is encouraging Pakistan to take any action on the subject, Price said that the US was a partner of Pakistan but did not have any influence on any decisions made by the country.
He said, “Pakistan will do what’s in its self-interest, and it will take action when it deems appropriate based on the inherent right of self-defense”.
According to the spokesperson, terrorism is a “threat that Pakistan itself faces” and has suffered huge losses in terms of precious lives in various terrorist attacks led by militants operating in the border regions.
Price said the presence of militants had been an “enduring challenge” for the US, NATO and “certainly for Afghanistan’s neighbours, who have most frequently been the victims of attacks that have emanated from Afghanistan”.
Explaining his country’s position, he said the US condemned any threat of violence from TTP or any other terrorist group. “US and Pakistan do indeed have a shared interest in ensuring that the Taliban live up to the commitments and that terrorist groups like ISIS-K, like the TTP, like Al-Qaeda are no longer able to threaten regional security,” he added.
He said Pakistan was a close security partner with US but he would not comment on any plans or operations Islamabad may be taking or contemplating.
“The terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan has in the past not only presented a threat to Pakistan but to the region. So these are questions for the Pakistani government. We are a partner to Pakistan, but ultimately its decisions are its decisions,” Price said.
The US continues to call on the Taliban to uphold the counterterrorism commitments and pledges to curtail the ability of international terrorists to be able to operate on Afghan soil, he said.
Pakistan has a right to defend itself
Earlier on Wednesday, Price had told the reporters during a press briefing that Pakistan had a right to defend itself from terrorism as the country had suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks.
“We’re aware of the recent statement by the Pakistani National Security Committee,” he said and added, “The Pakistani people have suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks. Pakistan has a right to defend itself from terrorism.”
He was commenting on a statement of Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah who had threatened to target the TTP militants in Afghanistan if Kabul does not take action to dismantle them.
The National Security Committee (NSC), under the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has also asked the government in Kabul — without naming it — not to provide safe havens to terrorist groups on its soil.
The US calls on the Taliban to uphold the very commitment they have made to see to it that Afghan soil is never again used as a launch pad for international terrorist attacks, according to Price. “These are among the very commitments that the Taliban have been unable or unwilling to fulfil to date.”
The spokesman recalled that it had been repeatedly said that there would be a response from the United States. “The Taliban have made commitments to the international community. But more importantly, they have made commitments to the Afghan people. Those are the commitments we care most about. Among the commitments, the Taliban have made but have repeatedly broken when it comes to their own people is an emphasis on human rights,” he stressed.
The spokesperson said, “As long as the Taliban is not able to fulfil these commitments, we will respond in a way that registers our strong condemnation while continuing to support the Afghan people. And we’re going to be very careful not to do anything that could further imperil the humanitarian well-being of the Afghan people.”