“Militants operating out of Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to threaten Afghan stability, as well as stoke tensions between Pakistan and India,” the US Central Command chief said.
General Joseph Votel told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee: “We look to regional actors such as Pakistan to cease behavior undermining stability and play constructive roles in achieving peace in Afghanistan.”
Pakistan had taken positive steps to assist US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad in support of Afghanistan reconciliation by facilitating talks with the Taliban, he acknowledged.
But Pakistan “has avoided taking any concrete or irreversible steps such as arresting or expelling Taliban leaders who do not cooperate with reconciliation efforts,” he said.
“With our strategic focus on reconciliation and regional security, Pakistan has a unique opportunity to make good on its promises of support to US efforts focused on finding a negotiated settlement to the Afghanistan conflict,” he said.
If Islamabad played a positive role in achieving a settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, the US would have an opportunity to help Pakistan fulfill that role, as peace in the region was the most important mutual priority, Votel remarked.
As a state possessing nuclear weapons that sits at the nexus of Russian, Chinese, Indian, Iranian and US geopolitical interests, Pakistan would always be a of importance to the US, he noted.
“However, Pakistan’s actions are often a source of frustration to US regional efforts in Afghanistan,” Votel said, blaming Islamabad for not taking concrete actions against militant safe havens inside its borders.
The suspension of US security assistance to Pakistan remains in place, according to the CENTCOM chief, who is likely to retire later during the current year.