Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pakistan must target all militant groups and close safe havens: US

Pakistan must take action against all terror groups including those targeting its neighbours and close all safe havens, the US has said while acknowledging Islamabad's "meaningful steps" to combat outfits that threaten the country's stability.

"We have been very clear that Pakistan must target all militant groups, including those that target Pakistan's neighbours, and close all safe havens," State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference.

It is in this regard, the US "certainly welcome" comments by Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on July 6 when he directed Pakistani military commanders, intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies to take concrete measures to deny any militant groups safe haven or the use of Pakistani soil to launch terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Toner said.

"We are continuing to address some of our concerns about where Pakistan needs to move next in terms of combating terrorist threats," Toner said.

It is in the US's long-term national interests to support Pakistan's efforts to combat terrorism, violent extremism, and build a more stable and democratic society, he said as he appreciated the recent efforts of Pakistan Army to take action against terrorist groups that threaten them only.

"We believe that Pakistan is taking steps to address terrorist violence, particularly focused on groups that threaten Pakistan's stability. They have made progress shutting down terrorist safe havens," he said.

"They've restored government control in many parts of Pakistan that have been used as terrorist safe havens for many years. These are important, and they're meaningful steps for Pakistan to have made. They have also come at a cost, and that cost is certainly in Pakistani lives," Toner said.

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