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US talks tough with Pak on terror

While the USA insists that Pompeo raised the issue of Pakistan taking decisive action against all forms of terrorism, Pakistan has contradicted it publicly & sought correction. The US is sticking to its guns but it remains to be seen if this squabble will set the tone for the already embittered ties between US and Pakistan under Imran Khan’s stewartship.

Imran Khan’s rise to the Prime Minister’s post in Pakistan raised hopes for better times ahead on the curbing terrorism and peaceful South Asia front. But indications are that Pakistan remains unwilling to depart from its double speak on terrorism.

The latest pointer has come from an ugly row that has erupted over a congratulatory telephonic conversation US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had with the new Pak PM on Thursday. A US Department of State read out about the conversation said. Secretary Pompeo raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan and its vital role in promoting the Afghan peace process. But Pakistan’s foreign office snapped back sharply over the US version of the conversation.

Its spokesperson taking to social media to say that Secretary Pompeo made no mention of terrorists operating in Pakistan & the State department read out should be corrected. But the US refused to blink.

The war of words between the US and Pakistan has erupted barely 10 days ahead of Pompeo’s upcoming trip to Islamabad where he’s likely to become the first foreign dignitary to call on the newly elected Pak PM. Apart from seeking action against terrorists, Pompeo is likely to seek Pakistan’s cooperation is the peace process US has initiated with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Relations between the US and Pakistan have been on a downhill since January this year when US President Donald Trump denounced Islamabad on social media for rewarding past US aid with “nothing but lies & deceit”. This was closely followed by Washington announcing plans to suspend up to $2 billion in US security assistance to Pakistan.

Pakistan also fell foul of the Financial Action Task Force against terrorism which put it on its grey list earlier this year.

This is likely to jeopardise Pakistan’s bid to seek a financial bailout package of nearly 12 billion dollars from the IMF.

Clearly, both US and Pakistan need each-other in the quest for peace and prosperity in the region. The question is will they agree to disagree on how the US’s ice breaker with Imran Khan went in the interest of a warming thaw in overall ties?

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