WASHINGTON, 4 October: U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday the United States would try “one more time” to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan before President Donald Trump would turn to options to address Islamabad’s alleged support for militant groups, Reuters reported.
Relations between the two countries have been frayed over the past decade. While officials have long questioned the role Pakistan has played in Afghanistan, the comments by Mattis are likely to cause concern in Islamabad and within the Pakistan military.
“We need to try one more time to make this strategy work with them, by, with and through the Pakistanis, and if our best efforts fail, the president is prepared to take whatever steps are necessary,” Mattis said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.
Mattis added that he would be traveling to Islamabad soon, but did not give more details. Reuters first reported that possible Trump administration responses being discussed include expanding U.S. drone strikes and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.
When asked by a lawmaker whether revoking Pakistan’s major non-NATO ally status was amongst the options being considered to deal with Islamabad, Mattis said: “I am sure it will be.”