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National

August 13, 2017

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US may again ask Pakistan to do more

US may again ask Pakistan to do more

WASHINGTON: While the Trump White House is deliberating a new Afghan policy, senior former administration official has hinted that a plan might heavily focus on Afghanistan, and putting pressure on Pakistan to do more against militant sanctuaries on its soil.

The hint hits closer to base since US senator proposed imposing graduated diplomatic, military and economic costs on Pakistan.

Even thought the administration's own strategy is yet to be out, the former key official hoped that bilateral relations between the US and Pakistan should not deteriorate any further. No one wants the relationship between the two countries reduce to one single issue, Richard Boucher said, adding that neither side wants "what have you done for me lately" situation.

He expected pressure on Pakistan to eliminate sanctuaries of extremists who have the ability to move back and forth.

Boucher was the assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs from 2006 to 2009. He was part of the selected group that discussed mutual issues with a Pakistani group of former high ranking officials. The event ended on Saturday and was pronounced strictly off-the-record.

Talking to The News, Boucher shared his personal thoughts after the session and maintained that both countries have to deal with acute issues that include terrorism. He commended Pakistan for clearing out troubled areas through military operations but suggested that cross border cooperation with Afghanistan needs to intensify.

"The government is more in control in places like tribal areas, but it won't satisfy the US government if there were people shooting at Americans especially if some of them have bases in Pakistan," he said, adding that such issues need to be resolved keeping in view a broader context.

He stated that regional developments were part of the discussion. "India and China kept coming up but US-Pakistan relations and cooperation should stand on its own," he said. Boucher added that both countries have to go beyond blaming each other.

Answering a question he said India's improved relations with the US weren't any concern to Pakistani side as US has no issue with China developing closer relations with Pakistan. "Chinese involvement in helping Pakistan's energy and business problems would be good for the country and for the region. It's also an opportunity for American investors."

Among the participants from Pakistan side was former ambassador to the US, Jalil Abbas Jilani, who highlighted salient points of the closed door discussion. From terrorism to regional cooperation with neighbouring countries and CPEC featured this talks, he said. Jalil further elaborated that the panel also discussed how India was involved in state terror in Kashmir.

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