23 October 2017

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Sanctuaries Inside Pakistan Key Operational Issue Faced By Afghan Forces, US Gen.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Washington (BNA) Gen. James Mattis, US Defense Secretary nominee, on Thursday told lawmakers those terrorist sanctuaries inside Pakistan was a key operational issue faced by the Afghan security forces.
“Sanctuary and freedom of movement for the Afghan Taliban and associated militant network inside Pakistan territory is a key operational issue faced by the Afghan security forces,” Mattis told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing.
“If confirmed, I will examine efforts to deny sanctuary to extremist forces undermining the stability and security of Afghanistan,” Mattis said adding that countries in the region have the responsibility to support the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
Countries in the region he said should increase pressure on the Afghan Taliban and associated militant networks to stop their campaigns of violence in Afghanistan.
Of the view that Pakistan has learned some hard lessons because of its dealings with the Afghan Taliban, as violence in that country reflects, Mattis said Pakistan should do more to collaborate with its neighbor.
We should urge Pakistan to take further actions against the Taliban and the Haqqani network,” Mattis said.
Supporting reconciliation process with the Taliban, Mattis said any American role in this should be in support of US national security interests, including the sovereignty of the Government of Afghanistan.
He supported the three red-lines of the outgoing Obama Administration on talks with the Taliban.
“In the past, the Afghan Taliban were told that they must break ties with Al-Qaeda, renounce violence and abide by the Afghan constitution in order to be allowed to enter the political process. I believe these continue to be reasonable demands,” he said.
Responding to a question on conditioning aid to Pakistan, Mattis said he would review “all option” even though this has had a mixed history.
Mattis said Pakistan has “learned some hard lessons” because of its dealings with the Afghan Taliban, as violence in that country reflects. “I believe they should do more to collaborate with their neighbor.
We should urge Pakistan to take further actions against the Taliban and the Haqqani network,” Mattis said.
“If confirmed, I will work with the State Department and the Congress to incentivize Pakistan’s co-operation on issues critical to our national interests and the region’s security, with focus on Pakistan’s need to expel or neutralize externally-focused militant groups that operate within its borders,” he said.
 

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