United States (US) Defence Secretary James Mattis arrived in Islamabad on Monday for his first visit to the country since taking over the charge of the Pentagon.
Secretary Mattis landed at an air force base in Rawalpindi and headed straight to the US Embassy. Upon his arrival, he was received by officials from the Defence Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the US Embassy.
During his visit, Mattis is expected to hold meetings with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff Qamar Jawed Bajwa.
On Saturday, Secretary Mattis had told reporters that during his time in Islamabad he would look for “common ground” between America and Pakistan.
Asked if he was going to press the government to take more action against militants, Mattis said: “That’s not the way I deal with issues. I believe that we work hard on finding the common ground and then we work together.”
Mattis had also said that his discussion with leadership in Islamabad will focus on US President Donald Trump’s South Asia policy which was announced in August.
The strategy seeks Pakistan’s support to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield as Washington believes that only a defeat will force them to reconcile with the Afghan government.
Soon after the announcement, Pakistan had expressed its reservations to some of the policy decisions made in the strategy and totally rejected the misperception of not taking action against all terrorist groups.
“The US remains committed to a pragmatic relationship that expands cooperation on shared interests,” the US secretary had said on Saturday while reinforcing President Trump’s call for action against alleged safe havens.
Washington’s warning to Pakistan
Mattis arrived in Islamabad a day after CIA Director Mike Pompeo warned Pakistan that if it does not eliminate the alleged safe havens inside its territory, the United States will do “everything we can” to destroy them.
“The safe haven inside of Pakistan has worked to the detriment of our capacity to do what we needed to do in Afghanistan,” Pompeo had said.
He had then explained how the Trump administration would deal with the situation if Pakistan turned down Washington’s request to destroy safe havens. “In the absence of the Pakistanis achieving that, we are going to do everything we can to make sure that that safe haven no longer exists,” he had said.
Last week the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, had said that Islamabad had not carried out the “clear” demands made by Washington. “We have not seen those changes implemented yet,” he told reporters.
In October, Mattis has warned that the United States was willing to work “one more time” with Pakistan before taking “whatever steps are necessary” to address its alleged support for militants.