Pakistan must end support to terrorist groups, a top US Senator has said, a day after meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan and the army chief, discussing with them what more can be done to preempt terror attacks and prevent the spread of radicalism.
Senator Maggie Hassan also called for finding ways to de-escalate the tension between India and Pakistan that spiked after New Delhi revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August.
She said Pakistan has an important role to play in stabilising Afghanistan, where the US has come under increasing criticism for civilian causalities as a result of airstrikes in the recent months.
Asserting that her top priority is to keep “Americans safe” and promoting stability and ongoing counterterrorism measures are critical to that effort, Hassan on Friday said, “It was particularly helpful to discuss with key Pakistani leaders what more can be done to preempt terrorist attacks and prevent the spread of terrorist ideology.”
“Moreover, it was important for us to communicate directly to Pakistan’s senior leadership that they must end support to the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In addition, amid escalating tensions in Kashmir, it’s critical that we find ways to help de-escalate the situation on both sides,” she said after concluding her trip to Pakistan and landing in India for meetings with the Indian leadership.
US Senators Hassan and Chris Van Hollen met Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and officials from the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on Thursday.
Hassan and Hollen also visited Pakistani-occupied Kashmir to observe conditions on the ground and push for a de-escalation of the situation, including calling on India to end its curfew, release prisoners, and restore communications.
Ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Pakistan reacted angrily to the move and expelled the Indian envoy. Since then, Pakistan has been trying to rally international support against India on the issue.
India has been maintaining that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan and there is no scope for any third-party mediation.
In India, Hassan will meet key political and business leaders and US embassy officials to discuss the situation in Kashmir, the US-India relationship and international trade. Before visiting Pakistan, the two senators travelled to Afghanistan and met presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah as well as several Afghan women officials who had represented the strife-torn country in talks with the Taliban.
“We heard directly from US and Afghan officials about the threat posed to both of our countries from IS’s growing regional affiliate,” Hassan said.