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McMaster: Relations Between U.S. And Pakistan Can No Longer Bear Contradictions

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster during a press briefing at the White House in November 2017.

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has warned that relations between Pakistan and the United States can no longer withstand Islamabad’s selective crackdown on some terrorist groups while extending support and safe haven to others.

Speaking with VOA, McMaster said that President Donald Trump’s January 1 Twitter post accusing Islamabad of "lies and deceit" and providing a safe haven for terrorists, expressed his frustration at Pakistan’s failure to go after all terrorist groups on its soil.

“This is really our effort to communicate clearly to Pakistan … that we have to really begin now to work together to stabilize Afghanistan,” he said. “We see Pakistan operating against the interests of its own people by going after these groups only selectively, by providing safe havens and support bases for Taliban and Haqqani network leadership that operate out of Pakistan as they perpetuate hell in portions of Pakistan and in Afghanistan.”

McMaster has served in Afghanistan and is widely seen to be a key force behind Trump’s Afghanistan and South Asia strategy, which was unveiled last August.

“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 told a gathering in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21. “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”

Four months later, McMaster sees little change in Pakistan’s behavior.

“[Pakistan] goes after terrorist insurgent groups, really, very selectively, and uses others as an arm of their foreign policy,” he said. “The president has great sympathy for the Pakistani people and how much they’ve suffered at the hands of terrorists.”

The U.S. National Security adviser said he hopes Pakistan’s neighbors, global powers, and allies such as China would also to see an end to its support for terrorist groups.

McMaster said that given Pakistan’s tremendous human and economic potential, its leaders are unlikely to choose the path of North Korea in becoming a pariah state.

“I can’t imagine a Pakistani leader using nuclear weapons to extort or for blackmail,” he said.