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Last Updated Monday January 22 2018 07:44 AM IST

US cannot be silent on Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist groups: Trump

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US cannot be silent on Pakistan's safe havens to terrorist groups: Trump US president Donald Trump. Reuters

What Trump said

• We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens to terrorist organizations

• Pakistan often gives safe havens to agents of chaos, violence and terror

• Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor terrorists

• A hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan would create a vacuum that terrorists - including ISIS and al-Qaeda - would instantly fill

• The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict

•We want to further develop US' strategic partnership with India

• We want India to help us more in Afghanistan, especially in the economic sector

Washington: US president Donald Trump opened the door to an increase in American troop numbers in Afghanistan on Monday night as part of a new strategy for the region, arguing against a hasty withdrawal from America's longest military conflict.

Trump, in a prime-time televised address, said his new approach was aimed at preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for militants bent on attacking the United States. He also laid out a tougher approach to US policy towards Pakistan.

Talking tough, Trump hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to 'agents of chaos' that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has 'much to lose' by harboring terrorists.

Trump came down heavily on Pakistan for its support to terror groups, saying the country receives billions in US aid but continues to harbor militants.

"For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen," Trump said.

He said after a "comprehensive review", it was decided that the American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically.

Warning to Pak

Trump said a pillar of his new strategy was a change in America's approach to Pakistan.

He slammed Pakistan for its support to terror groups and warned Islamabad of consequences if it continued to do so.

"We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond," Trump said.

"Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor terrorists," he said, in a warning to Pakistan.

The US president also reached out to India, seeking an enhanced role for New Delhi, especially in the economic field, to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

"We appreciate India's important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development," Trump said.

In his speech, Trump slammed Islamabad for harboring militants who target US service members.

"But that will have to change. That will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country's harboring of militants and terrorists who target US service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.

In the past, Trump noted that the US has been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars but the country continues to house the very terrorists that America is fighting.

Trump, however, noted that Pakistan has been a valued partner and the militaries of the two countries have worked together against common enemies.

"The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism. We recognize those contributions and those sacrifices," Trump said.

"But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people," he added.

Trump's strong criticism of Pakistan comes days after the US designated Kashmiri militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen as a 'foreign terrorist organization'.

Also, it comes about two months after declaring the group's Pakistan-based chief Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist.

India's role in Afghanistan

In a statement following Trump's address, secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed the president's views on enhanced role for India in the new South Asia strategy.

"India will be an important partner in the effort to ensure peace and stability in the region, and we welcome its role in supporting Afghanistan's political and economic modernization," he said.

Tillerson also urged Pakistan to take decisive action against terror groups.

"Pakistan has suffered greatly from terrorism and can be an important partner in our shared goals of peace and stability in the region," he said.

"We look to Pakistan to take decisive action against militant groups based in Pakistan that are a threat to the region. It is vital to US interests that Afghanistan and Pakistan prevent terrorist sanctuaries," Tillerson said.

Read more: Latest world news | Spanish police shoot suspected Barcelona attacker

The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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