No change in Pak behaviour despite Trump’s tough line; says Gen Nicholson

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WASHINGTON: The top US general in Afghanistan Gen John Nicholson has said that he had not seen a change in Pakistan’s support for militants so far, despite President Donald Trump taking a tougher line against Islamabad.

US Gen John Nicholson

US officials have long been frustrated by what they see as Pakistan’s reluctance to act against groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network that they believe exploit safe haven on Pakistani soil to launch attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan.
In August, Trump outlined a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, chastising Pakistan over its alleged support for Afghan militants. US official expressed hope that relations between the two countries could improve after a kidnapped US-Canadian couple and their three children were freed in Pakistan in October, after the couple was abducted in neighbouring Afghanistan.
“We have been very direct and very clear with the Pakistanis… we have not seen those changes implemented yet,” Gen John Nicholson told reporters. “We are hoping to see those changes, we are hoping to work together with the Pakistanis going forward to eliminate terrorists who are crossing” the border He added that he believed that senior Taliban leaders were based in Pakistan, while the lower level leadership was in Afghanistan. Pakistan says it has done a great deal to help the US in tracking down terrorists.
The Taliban is “living in comfort…with plenty of drug money” in Pakistan said the commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan. What’s more, the commander said Pakistan has yet to take significant action against the Taliban, despite it having been over a 100 days since US President Donald Trump’s demand that Islamabad needs to do more in the war on terror instead of providing “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror”. The US, on its part, recently carried out a series of operations targeting Taliban-linked opium production facilities in Helmand province, operations he said cost the Taliban as much as $10 million in revenue, but Pakistan has yet to demonstrate any commitment, said US General John Nicholson, the commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan.
“We have not seen those changes implemented yet…They (Pakistan) identified certain steps that they were going to take. We’ve not yet seen those steps play out…in terms of changes thus far this year, again, (Trump’s) policy was announced August 21, it’s now a hundred days late,” said Nicholson, reported CNN and Reuters news agency. The US General was referring to Trump’s fire and brimstone speech when he accused Pakistan of sheltering terror groups that try every day to kill Americans.”We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars but at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately,” said Trump in that August 21 address.