In Pakistan, Trump’s national security adviser signals tougher U.S. stance

by WorldTribune Staff, April 17, 2017

In advance of the Trump administration’s first formal high-level exchange with Pakistan, national security adviser H.R. McMaster suggested that Washington is adjusting its policy towards a key ally in the region.

McMaster visited Islamabad on April 17, a day after holding talks with Afghan leaders in Kabul.

National security advisor H.R. McMaster, left, with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad on April 17. /Reuters

He delivered a public message to leaders in Pakistan, whom Afghan officials accuse of permitting Taliban jihadists to establish sanctuaries and conduct attacks into Afghanistan with the help of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Voice of America reported.

“As all of us have hoped for many many years … that Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after these groups less selectively than they have in the past and the best way to pursue their interests in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy not through the use of proxies that engage in violence,” McMaster said.

The Pakistani government said in a statement that the U.S. delegation included Lisa Curtis, a researcher with the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, who McMaster has hired to oversee South Asia affairs.

In February, Curtis co-authored an article calling for Washington to “levy heavy costs on Pakistan for policies that help perpetuate terrorism in the region.”

In his first trip to the region since being named national security adviser, McMaster met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his top foreign policy aides before holding talks with the country’s powerful military chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Speaking to a local Afghan television station after concluding his meetings in Kabul on April 16, McMaster withheld comments on whether a new strategy the Trump administration is putting together will include a boost to American troop strength in Afghanistan.

“Well, part of the new strategy will be what the president decides it is. What we are doing here is to…President Trump to decide, really, what is the best course of action to begin to accelerate progress in the war and to help bring lasting peace and security to the Afghan people,” McMaster told TOLOnews.