US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief Mike Pompeo has repeated the mantra of President Donald Trump’s administration that Pakistan continues to provide shelter to terrorists who target US citizens, saying this is “no longer going to be acceptable”.
Speaking on CBS show Face the Nation on Sunday, the spy agency chief said US has given Pakistan a “chance” to reinstate its alliance with the United States by holding back all security aid until Pakistan proves its commitment to fight all terrorist groups operating in the region.
“If they fix this problem, we’re happy to continue to engage with them and be their partner. But if they don’t, we’re going to protect America,” he said.
Providing the “intelligence perspective” on the situation in Pak-Afghan region, the CIA director said: “We see the Pakistanis continuing to provide safe harbour, havens inside of Pakistan for terrorists who present risks to the United States of America.
“We are doing our best to inform the Pakistanis that this is no longer going to be acceptable.”
When asked by the host whether it was a good idea to pressure Pakistan, a nuclear power, by cutting off all aid, Pompeo said he would avoid addressing this policy and could only present the intelligence viewpoint.
The host mentioned that Pakistan provides a number of facilities to the US counterterrorism forces in exchange for the aid and whether that could be a national security problem for the US. He wondered whether this relationship that “may not be perfect” could continue nevertheless.
“The president has made very clear that he needs Pakistan to cease being a safe haven for terrorists that threaten the United States of America, end, period, full stop,” the CIA chief responded.
In the new year, Washington has increased pressure on Islamabad to “do more” in the fight against terrorism.
Washington has stated that the suspension of military aid, which came after Trump accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit”, is part of America’s South Asia strategy.
The development has followed in the aftermath of an increasingly terse back-and-forth between Washington and Islamabad since Trump announced the policy.
In Pakistan, the move has been seen as the first step to implementing Trump’s pledge to tighten economic restrictions on Islamabad.
Despite the tension, however, US and Pakistani officials remain in contact with each other. US Defence Secretary James Mattis on Friday said that the Pentagon was maintaining its communication with the Pakistani military establishment even after the suspension of military assistance.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua has said that Pakistan will continue to engage with Washington as far as possible, because America is not only a global power but also has a regional presence, and “for us it’s almost our neighbour”.