Washington, Oct. 4 (PTI): Pakistan can benefit economically from India if it realises that the "tide has shifted" and stops providing safe havens to terrorists, US defence secretary Jim Mattis has said.
Mattis told members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday that the Trump administration was being very clear and firm in what it expected from Pakistan and was using all aspects of the government to bring about the change.
His statement came weeks after President Donald Trump announced his Afghanistan and South Asia policy, adopting a tough stand on Pakistan, and ahead of Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Asif's talks with secretary of state Rex Tillerson and other top Trump administration officials.
"There are a number of lines of effort being put together now in (the) secretary of treasury's office, secretary of state's office, my own office, the intel agencies. We are also working with secretary-general (Jens) Stoltenberg to ensure that Nato's equities are brought to bear," Mattis said.
He said India certainly had a role to play as a neighbour and was potentially a very strong economic benefit to Pakistan#if Islamabad could find a way to carry out its international responsibilities and end any kind of safe haven on its soil.
"There's a great deal that Pakistan can benefit economically, diplomatically, financially for its government; economically for its people; by finally sensing that the tide has shifted against this," Mattis said.
He said the Trump administration believes it would be highly difficult to sustain any stabilisation in South Asia, not just in Afghanistan but certainly anywhere around Pakistan and India, unless safe havens were removed.
Mattis was responding to questions from lawmakers who wanted to know why the administration believed Pakistan would change its behaviour.
Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Trump has spoken about changing the US approach to Pakistan, which continues to harbour terrorists who target US service members and officials.
"But we still do not know what specific steps the United States will take to convince or compel Pakistan to change its behaviour, or what costs we will impose if Pakistan fails to do so."
McCain said it was unclear to him if the administration believed that any step or series of steps the US might take would stop Pakistan from providing support and sanctuary for certain terrorist groups.
Ranking Member Senator Jack Reed said if the mission in Afghanistan was to succeed, it was imperative to disrupt the external sanctuaries in Pakistan, which continues to provide the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other associated groups the ability to train, recruit, rest, refit and stage attacks without significant fear of interference.
Reed, a member of the Democratic Party, said: "We have heard that the administration intends to change the relationship with Pakistan in order to compel action that supports our efforts in Afghanistan," Reed said as he sought details of tools available to press Pakistan to make more progress on these issues.
Mattis said Pakistan had a "convoluted history" with terrorism and there was little doubt that militant groups have used the country as a haven for attacks, and not just towards Afghanistan.
"We've seen the attacks on India, as well," he said. "At the same time, probably few nations, perhaps none, have lost as many troops fighting terrorists as they have."