ISLAMABAD: After it announced withholding $300 million military aid to Islamabad, the US has urged Pakistan to target all militant groups and not adopt a "selective approach" to combating terror.
"Pakistan has taken and is taking steps to counter terrorist violence, and certainly focusing on those groups that threaten Pakistan or its stability. The military has shut down some of these safe havens," US State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said during a briefing on Thursday evening.
He noted that the Pakistani military had shut down some terrorist safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and had restored "government control" in parts of the country that were used as terrorist safe havens for years.
“These are important steps that have contributed to security interests in the region. And they've come at a cost of Pakistani lives lost,” he said, adding “So I guess, to put it briefly or summarise it, they've made progress.”
"They're going after groups, but selectively. We need to see them go after all groups," Toner added.
Replying to a question about the Pentagon's decision to withhold $300 million of defence aid to Pakistan over its alleged reluctance to act against the Haqqani network, Toner said that unlike the Pentagon, the State Department had continued its assistance and some of that included security assistance.
Asked if the State Department agreed with the Pentagon's assessment that Pakistan was not doing enough to eliminate the Haqqani network, he said: “We've urged the government of Pakistan to address this and to pursue closer counter-terrorism cooperation with Afghanistan against all groups that pose a long-term security threat to the region, not just to Pakistan.”
The Pentagon on Wednesday refused the $300 million aid, in a sign of unhappiness with Islamabad for not acting against the Haqqani network.
Defence Secretary Ashton B. Carter had decided against making a certification to Congress stating that Pakistan is taking sufficient action against the militant organisation.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in his address at a Saarc ministerial meeting in Islamabad on Thursday, had said that there is "no good or bad terrorism" and urged that "terrorists should not be glorified or patronised".
His reference was to Pakistan terming as a "martyr" a pro-Pakistan rebel commander killed in Jammu and Kashmir, which triggered large scale unrest in the northern Indian state.