Destroy terror havens or we’ll: CIA to Pak

| | Washington/

In a stern warning to Pakistan, CIA Director Mike Pompeo has said that if Pakistan does not get its act together and dismantle the terrorist safe havens on its territory, the United States will "do everything" to see that these sanctuaries no longer exist.

 Pompeo's warning came just ahead of US Defence Secretary Gen. James Mattis' visit to Islamabad on Monday to reinforce President Donald Trump's call for an aggressive push against militants operating from Pakistani safe havens to frequently strike Afghan targets across the porous border.If Pakistan does not heed the US message on militants, "we are going to do everything we can to ensure that safe havens no longer exist," the Voice of America quoted the CIA chief as saying over the weekend, while speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

 "You begin by seeking their (Pakistan's) assistance," Pompeo said, noting that Secretary Mattis during his Islamabad visit will "make clear the President's intent" and "deliver the message that we would love you to do that (destroy the safe havens)".

 The CIA chief then went on to say, "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."

 The United States, according to media reports, has been considering expanding the CIA's drone strikes aimed at militant targets in northwest Pakistan along the border with Pakistan, along with several other measures, which could possibly include downgrading Pakistan's current status as a major non-NATO ally.

 In contrast to Pompeo's tough talk, Mattis himself told accompanying journalists on his way to Islamabad that he did not quite plan to "prod" Pakistan in what would be his first visit to that country as the Pentagon chief.

 "That's not the way I deal with issues. I believe that we [can] work hard on finding common ground and then we work together," VOA quoted him as saying, yet noting that he would expect Pakistan to adhere to promises it has made to combat terrorism.

 Mattis, who was slated to meet Pakisani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, was quoted as saying that he would focus on trying to find "more common ground ... by listening to one another without being combative".

 At the Reagan defence forum event, former CIA chief Leon Panetta also recounted his grim experiences while dealing with Pakistan as the Obama administration's head of the spy agency.

 "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," Panetta said, noting: "We have made every effort possible, during the time I was there, to convince Pakistan to stop it. But Pakistan, as Mike (Pompeo) knows, has this kind of two-wedge approach to dealing with terrorism."

   "On one hand, yes, they do not like terrorism, or attacks from terrorism in their country. But at the same time, they don't mind using terrorism as leverage to deal with Afghanistan and to deal with India," Panetta said, remarking which was why Pakistan "has always been a question mark".

 "I hope that Mike (Pompeo) and Jim Mattis are successful in making clear to the Pakistanis that got to be able to see a little broader and they have to go after terrorists within their own territory. Unless that happens, we are going to continue to have problems in Afghanistan," Panetta was quoted as saying. 



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