US lawmakers urge Pakistan to take action against all militantsArchive
WASHINGTON: US lawmakers, while pleased with Pakistan’s resolve to combat extremists along the Afghan border, are pressing the country also to crack down on other militant groups.
The prime minister’s special assistant on foreign affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi and senior Pakistani diplomats had a taste of their indignation over the issue this week as they spent two days on Capitol Hill, lobbying for their country.
While statements issued by the Pakistani side after these meetings ignored the subject, congressional aides told reporters that some senior US lawmakers were particularly interested in the Mumbai terrorist attacks case.
The lawmakers also shared their concern over a recent decision by a Pakistani court to release all suspects in the Malala case for lack of evidence.
One of them, Congressman Ed Royce, who chairs the House Foreign Relations Committee, urged Islamabad to either hand over the alleged Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi to India or present him in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Earlier, Chairman Royce and Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on his committee, had also sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to persuade Pakistan to fight all terrorists, whether operating on its western or eastern borders.
They wrote: “The United States should pursue a different approach with the Pakistani government. We urge you to consider implementing travel restrictions, suspending portions of assistance, and sanctioning Pakistani officials that maintain relationships with designated terrorist groups.”
They argued that “such an approach would make clear that the US and Pakistan cannot have a true strategic partnership until Pakistan cuts all ties with terrorist organisations and renounces its use as an instrument of state policy.”
The Pakistan Embassy in Washington, however, said that Mr Fatemi continued his “intense engagements” with US lawmakers on Thursday as well.
He held separate meetings with Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Robert Casey from Pennsylvania.
Senator Feinstein is the Vice Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Senator Casey is a senior member of the Committee on Finance as well as the Joint Economic Committee.
In the meeting with Senator Feinstein, the two sides reviewed the state of relationship with special focus on defence and intelligence cooperation and expressed satisfaction on the growing momentum in this vital cooperation.
Mr Fatemi shared the recent achievements in Pakistan’s fight against terrorism following the ongoing military operations in Fata, which has entered a critical phase.
Senator Feinstein noted Pakistan’s efforts to eliminate terrorism and stabilise the region. Assuring him of the US support for enhancing Pakistan’s counter-terrorism capabilities, the senator stressed the need for continued cooperation between Pakistan and the US to deal with the emerging threat of ISIL (self-styled Islamic State.
Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2015
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