WASHINGTON : The United States is examining ways to lessen any Pakistani reprisal as it lots pressure on Islamabad to crack down on militants, a senior US indorsed said on Friday, warning that US action could extend beyond a new freeze in aid.
Mattis, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, said he was not concerned about America’s ability to use Pakistan as a gateway to resupply US forces in Afghanistan.
“I‘m not concerned, no,” Mattis said reporters at the Pentagon, adding he had not gotten any signal from Pakistan that it might cut off those routes. Mattis travelled to Pakistan last month.
“We’re still working with Pakistan and we would reestablish the aid if we see conclusive movements against the terrorists — who are as much a risk beside Pakistan as they are to us.”
The senior Trump administration official who spoke on state of secrecy acknowledged that a Pakistani cut-off would importantly complicate US resupply efforts in Afghanistan.
The official said the administration was developing “risk alleviation plans,” but recognized that examination of a northern network of another routes used in the past was “still at a very comprehensive level.”
“If somewhat were to happen to the ground lines of communication or air lines of communication through Pakistan, definitely that would be very difficult for the US and we would have to look for replacements,” the official said. “And it would not be easy.”
The United States has also said some of the choked aid could be released on a case-by-case basis, and none of it will be spent elsewhere — leaving the door open to full settlement.
So far, the Pentagon says Pakistan has not given any signal that it would close its airspace or roads to military supplies and US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis played down concerns on Friday. Pakistan is a critical entrance for US military supplies destined for US and other troops fighting a 16-year-old war in bordering, blocked-in Afghanistan.
But Washington has only just instigated to work through its new plan to suspend up to crudely $2 billion in US security support, publicized on Thursday. It came days after US President Donald Trump tweeted that Pakistan had rewarded past US aid with “nothing but lies & deceit.”
The senior Trump administration official, who spoke on condition of concealment, said Washington expected that the aid holdup would be enough to communicate its concern to Islamabad.
But the official cautioned that the holdup was also not the only tool that America had to force the country — suggesting it might resort to other dealings, if needed.
“We are seeing many diverse things, not just the (financial) assistance issue,” the official said.
“We are also looking at Pakistan’s possible response … and we are looking at ways to deal with that and to lessen the risks to the affiliation.”
The official dropped to detail what steps were under attention, including whether that might include possible autarchic US military action against militants in Pakistan.
But as Trump allow the US military to again ramp up its war effort in Afghanistan, including with the placement of more US troops together with Afghan forces, the official acknowledged a sense of insistence.
The United States has long blamed the militant safe havens in Pakistan for extending the war in Afghanistan, giving protesters, including from the Haqqani network, a place to plot attacks and rebuild its forces.