Pakistan needs to continue to put extreme pressure on terrorist groups: US diplomat

3 weeks ago 6

Pakistan needs to continue to put extreme pressure on the terrorist groups operating on its soil, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a top American diplomat nominated to be the country's next envoy to Islamabad has told US lawmakers.

"Pakistan needs to continue to put extreme pressure on the various terrorist groups that live and reside in Pakistan," senior diplomat William Todd, who has been nominated by US President Donald Trump as the country's next ambassador to Pakistan, said during his confirmation hearing this week.

Responding to a question from Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Todd said the LeT has created terror over the last several years.

"Pakistan has worked hard to prosecute the leadership of the LeT. The leader of the terrorist group was imprisoned approximately a year ago. Twelve of his subordinates were also imprisoned," he said.

"If I am confirmed, I will continue to press Pakistan to take sustained, irreversible action against terrorists. I will also work with them on the terrorist-financing aspect of it," Todd said in response to a question from Menendez.

"How will you use your tools at your disposal to encourage Pakistan to take action against the LeT and its leadership?" the senator asked.

Todd also told the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Pakistan is playing a very important role in the peace and reconciliation process.

"They have been very helpful facilitating meetings. They have been helpful reducing tension and they have been very, very helpful in terms of getting logistics and other things done that have helped us do what we needed to do," he said.

Right now in Doha, it is an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned discussion and negotiation. "But frankly, it is a long process between where we are today and where we need to go. For you know, for Pakistan, I think the most important role is moving forward, getting to peace and reconciliation, which will formally result in a political settlement that will end the 40-year war," Todd said.

The US believes that if the peace-and-reconciliation process goes as planned, over a period of time, some of the Afghan refugees inside Pakistan will want to go back.

"Currently, the US position is that it has to be condition-based, that there needs to be, basically, safety and security first. It has to be voluntary, second, and third, that whatever is the mechanism, it should live up to the international norms of migration," Todd said.

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