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U.S. Says Pakistan Doing 'Bare Minimum' Against Militants Within Its Borders

Members of Pakistani Islamist parties protesting against U.S. aid cuts in January.
Members of Pakistani Islamist parties protesting against U.S. aid cuts in January.

Pakistan is doing the "bare minimum" needed to address U.S. demands that it stop the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network from operating within its borders, a senior U.S. official has said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, provided to reporters on March 16 his assessment of Pakistan's efforts to counter the militants since U.S. President Donald Trump announced last year that he would withhold $2 billion a year in military aid unless Islamabad takes more vigorous action.

"The Pakistanis have wanted to appear responsive," but "they have done the bare minimum to appear responsive to our requests," said the official.

"We continue to make very specific requests, and when provided with very specific information, they have responded," he said. "But we have not seen them pro-actively take the steps that we expect and know they are capable of."

The United States, in particular, is demanding that Pakistan move against Taliban leaders who support a continuation of the war in Afghanistan and oppose participating in peace talks with Kabul, the official said.

But the country's powerful security services still seem to be supporting the Afghan Taliban, the official said, most likely because it sees the Taliban as aligned with Islamabad's interest in keeping India from influencing Afghanistan.

"We are continuing to look for real action, not just words, from Pakistan on the Taliban and Haqqani sanctuaries," the official said.

"We need to sustain the pressure," he said, adding that the administration is willing to "give it more time, it deserves more time."

With reporting by AFP and Reuters