United States’ (US) National Security Advisor H.R McMaster on Wednesday shed light on the US’s recent change of tack with Pakistan, warning that Pakistan’s relationship with the US can “no longer bear the weight of contradictions”.
In an interview with Voice of America (VoA), McMaster said US President Donald Trump was “frustrated at Pakistan’s behaviour” for providing ‘safe havens’ to some militant groups and using banned outfits as “an arm of [its] foreign policy”.
He, however, insisted that the US president had “great sympathy” and “empathy” for the Pakistani people, who had suffered “so much” at the hands of terrorists.
The Pakistani leadership, however, was “operating against the interests of its own people” by harbouring terrorists, he claimed. At the same time, he insisted that the recent allegations by the US were not part of a “blame game”.
“We have to really begin now to work together to stabilise Afghanistan,” he told the interviewer. “And in a way, that would be a huge benefit to Pakistan, as well.”
“Pakistan is a country with tremendous potential — human potential, economic potential,” he said. “So, what we really would like to see is Pakistan act in its own interest and to stop going after these groups only selectively, and to stop providing safe havens and support bases and other forms of support for leadership.”
Trump had accused Pakistan of giving the US “nothing but lies and deceit” in a tweet hours after the new year began. On Thursday night, Washington blocked all security aid until Pakistan “takes decisive action” against militant groups in the country.
“Pakistan doesn’t want to be a pariah state”
When asked if he thought Pakistan could use its nuclear weapons as a “lever”, McMaster said that he does not see the state becoming a second North Korea.
“I can’t imagine a Pakistani leader using nuclear weapons to extort or for blackmail,” he claimed.
He went on to say that despite being a nuclear country, Pakistan does not want to become a “pariah state”.
“Pakistan could be on a path to increase security and prosperity, or it could be on a path to replicating North Korea. I think that’s an easy choice for Pakistani leaders,” he said.