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Pakistan Stamping Out Terror Havens Is Critical For Long-Term Stability Of South Asia: US

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| October 6 , 2017 , 10:02 IST

A common pattern that is emerging in International forums is that when Pakistan is accused of providing safe havens to terrorists, the nation shifts the focus to alleged human rights violations in Kashmir carried out by India.

During talks between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Pakistan Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif, the US highlighted the importance of security in South Asia, specifically with regard to its 'South Asia strategy' and Pakistan's key role in it, of acting against the terrorist havens on its soil. Pakistan, in response, said that peace in South Asia would not be possible until the Kashmir matter was sorted out.

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Ahead of Tillerson's meeting with Asif, it was revealed that the Trump administration is concerned over the state of affairs in Pakistan, including its 'subversive' role in the region, its issues with India and reports of a growing rift within the country between its military and civilian leadership.

''I think the Pakistan relationship and the US relationship is extraordinarily important regionally. And as we rolled out the South Asia strategy, we spoke about it in a regional context. It is not just about Afghanistan," said Tillerson.

''This is about the importance of Pakistan and Pakistan's long-term stability as well. We have concerns about the future of Pakistan's government, too, in terms of them -- we want their government to be stable and we want it to be peaceful. And many of the same issues they're struggling with inside of Pakistan are our issues,'' he added.

''We think there is an opportunity to strengthen that relationship. We're going to be working very hard at all levels, from the State Department to the Defence Department to our intelligence communities, as well as economic, commerce opportunities as well. So it really is a regional approach and Pakistan is critical, I think, to the long-term stability of the region,'' Tillerson said.

''Our approach to South Asia, specifically Afghanistan, is building relations with India and Pakistan to stamp out terrorism and support the Afghan government in providing security for their home people,'' he continued.

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Despite evidence showing that Pakistan has nurtured terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Taliban, Asif maintained that Pakistan ''has pursued a zero-tolerance and indiscriminate approach in its campaign against all terrorist and militant groups."

Pakistan's foreign ministry in a statement after the meet between Asif and Tillerson said, ''informed the Secretary of State with regard to the strong public reaction in Pakistan to the pronouncement of US Administration's South Asia Policy - based on inadequate recognition of Pakistan's sterling contribution in the fight against terrorism.''

The statement also said Asif ''urged the United States to take note of the gross human rights violations being perpetrated by Indian security forces in Occupied Kashmir,'' adding that ''peace in South Asia would remain out of reach until the resolution of all longstanding disputes, including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir.''