Hailing Donald Trump’s new tough line against Pakistan, top US lawmakers have demanded that Islamabad be designated a “state sponsor of terrorism” and its major non-NATO ally status be revoked to force it stop from supporting terrorist groups.
President Trump on Tuesday called out Pakistan for supporting terror groups and providing them safe havens within its territory. The criticism came as a part of his speech outlining the new US strategy to end the 16-year war in Afghanistan and bring peace and stability in the larger South Asian region.
“President Trump’s speech marked a positive shift in US policy, but it must not be limited only to words. If Pakistan does not stop aiding terrorists with American blood on their hands we must cut all aid to Islamabad, revoke their privileged status as a major non-NATO ally, and designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism,” Congressman Ted Poe said.
He said Trump’s speech was a rude awakening for Pakistani military and intelligence services, who “keep betraying” the United States while accepting billions in aid from Washington.
“Despite Pakistan’s ongoing treachery, Islamabad is among the leading recipients of US foreign assistance since 9/11 and is praised in some quarters of the US government as a ‘vital’ ally. This must stop – if we want to stabilise Afghanistan, we must deal first with Pakistan,” he said.
Poe has a legislation pending in the US Congress that calls for designating Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism and revoking its major non-NATO ally status.
Congressman Kevin Cramer, too, applauded Trump for applying pressure on Pakistan.
“While Pakistan is an important partner in helping keep the peace, it’s time they take decisive action to make clear they do not support terrorist regimes in the region,” he said.
“The announcement that the Trump administration plans to increase cooperation with India couldn’t come at a better time,” Cramer said.
Congressman Drew Ferguson tweeted: “We must focus on removing terrorists safe havens and holding our partners in Pakistan to account.”
Senator John Cornyn, co-Chair of the Senate Indian Caucus, rued that the previous administration of Barack Obama never held Pakistan accountable for providing sanctuary to terrorists.
Congressman Tom Graves said Trump’s plan for Afghanistan and South Asia will eliminate terrorist safe havens and give US troops more freedom to pursue the enemy, hold Pakistan accountable and bring focus to the diplomatic strategy.
In his speech, Trump did not give any specifics on increasing troops or timeline for successfully ending the war. He offered few clear changes, but the new policy moved from a strategy based on timeline to the one based on conditions.
Coons said it uses a regional approach to challenge Pakistan’s troubling practice of harbouring extremist groups.
Senator Ben Cardin, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said pressure must be increased on Pakistan to end its support for extremist groups.