The United States expects Pakistan to take sustained, indiscriminate action against all terrorist group and welcomes its steps taken against terror financing, said the US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome.
Blome, who took charge of the US mission in Islamabad late last month, hinted in an interview with Dawn newspaper on Monday that counterterrorism cooperation will remain a defining feature of the US-Pakistan relationship for some time to come.
He said the United States was seeking "a strong partnership with Pakistan on counterterrorism" and expects from Islamabad "sustained" and indiscriminate action against all terrorist groups.
He said, "The United States is committed to preventing the re-emergence of terrorist threats, in Afghanistan or anywhere else. Fighting terrorism is a global effort.We will continue to engage partners, allies, and key states around the world on how best to address terrorism."
These comments referred to US President Joe Biden’s statement in which he had talked about developing capabilities and deploying assets in the region to prevent the re-emergence of terrorists in Afghanistan from over the horizon.
Blome's immediate task would be to ease the strained US-Pakistan ties and rebuild the bilateral relations which had been under stress for the last many years due to the mistrust over the issue of terrorism and the Afghan Taliban. Moreover, the ties were strained in the last phase of former Prime Minister Imran Khan's tenure when he accused the US of allying with the Opposition at the time to topple his government.
Following Khan's ouster in a no-confidence motion and swearing in of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's government, the two countries have indicated rapprochement. US Secretary of State congratulated the new government on Twitter, Sharif highlighted the importance of US partnership in his public comments, and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has also visited the United States to hold a meeting with Blinken.
Blome was specifically asked to clarify if the US pursuit for strengthening counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan included negotiations over a drone base closer to Afghanistan, but he avoided a direct reply.
On Afghanistan, he said the United States would work with Pakistan to "press the Taliban to prevent terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a base for external operations and to meet the international community’s expectations — including pressing the Taliban to adhere to their counterterrorism commitments, form an inclusive government, and protect the rights of women and girls".
Speaking ahead of the global illicit financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) plenary meeting, Blome welcomed Pakistan’s "ongoing efforts in countering the financing of terrorism and prioritising anti-money laundering measures". The FATF in its meeting will review the progress made by Pakistan, which has been on its ‘grey list’ since June 2018.
The comments came amid a report saying that FATF might drop Pakistan off the 'grey list' under pressure from China.
(With PTI inputs)