U.S. defence chief Mattis to visit Pakistan on Dec 4

U.S. defence chief Mattis to visit Pakistan on Dec 4

Mattis will meet with Pakistan leaders Monday to seek common ground on the counterterrorism fight, amid the Trump administration calls for Islamabad to more aggressively go after the insurgents moving back and forth across the border with Afghanistan. Early this week, Gen John Nicholson, the commander of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan, rued that Pakistan has not been able to carry out the counterterrorism actions which it promised to the Trump administration after the announcement of the new South Asia Strategy. "So I expect to see that sort of action reflected in their policies", Mattis said during his visit to Egypt.

According to a statement issued by the US Department of Defence, quoting Pentagon, Mattis on Friday embarked on a five-day trip to Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Kuwait. "But what we're looking for is to broaden the common ground and make certain that no terrorist organisation is seen as able to operate from a haven there", he said.

Mattis' optimism, however, comes despite persistent USA assertions that Islamabad is still not doing enough to battle the Taliban and allied Haqqani network insurgents within its borders.

"They have said that they do not support havens for any terrorists, and Pakistan has taken significant casualties -both innocent people and their army - significant casualties from them".

Since the start of the war in Afghanistan, militants in Pakistan have crossed the mountainous and ill-defined border to wage attacks against U.S., Afghan and allied forces. The US is also outraged at the release of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed from house arrest in Pakistan.

Egypt is among one of top recipients of US military assistance, receiving almost $1.3 billion annually as well as $250 million in economic aid.

On November 24, Pak Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had confirmed that US Defence Secretary James Mattis would conduct a one-day visit to the country.

Reportedly, the defence secretary was asked en route to Kuwait if he would prod Pakistan, to address its alleged support for the militants, when he visits there.

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