Washington/Islamabad: In a stern warning to Pakistan, the CIA chief has said if Islamabad does not eliminate terrorist “safe havens” in its territory, the US will do “everything” it can to destroy them.
The statement by CIA Director Mike Pompeo came ahead of US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis’s visit to Islamabad where he will persuade Pakistan to support the new US strategy on Afghanistan. The Trump administration is sending mixed signals to its estranged ally, Dawn reported.
The CIA director sent a harsh message when asked at the Reagan National Defence Forum in Simi, California, on Saturday how would the Trump administration persuade Pakistan to adhere to its new Afghan strategy.
“Secretary Mattis) will make clear the president’s intent. (He) will deliver the message that we would love you to do that. And that the safe haven inside of Pakistan has worked to the detriment of our capacity to do what we needed to do in Afghanistan,” the Dawn quoted Pompeo as saying.
He explained how the Trump administration would deal with the situation if Pakistan turned down Washington’s request to destroy safe havens. “In the absence of the Pakistanis achieving that, we are going to do everything we can to make sure that that safe haven no longer exists,” he said.
Since 2004, the CIA has conducted drone strikes in Fata and recent media reports have suggested that the Trump administration may expand those strikes to cover other areas inside Pakistan.
Pompeo’s predecessor, Leon Panetta, also shared with the forum his experience of dealing with Pakistan as the Obama administration’s CIA chief.
“Pakistan has always been a problem. It has been a safe haven for terrorists who cross the border and attack in Afghanistan and go back into Pakistan,” he said.
“We have made every effort possible, during the time I was there, to convince Pakistan to stop it. But Pakistan, as Mike knows, has this kind of two-wedge approach to dealing with terrorism,” he added.
During his Pakistan visit, Mattis is expected to meet Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.