US does not support Baloch insurgency: Alice Wells

Web Desk

WASHINGTON: The US government has said it firmly supports the territorial integrity of Pakistan and does not support Baloch insurgency or any group that threatens the country.

Ambassador Alice Wells, the principal deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at State Department, made the remarks during a talk titled “Signs of Hope for Afghan Peace Talks” at on March 9 at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, DC.

Alice Wells at the US Institute of Peace. Video: USIP

"We firmly support Pakistan's territorial integrity," she said, adding that the message of the Trump administration is that any group or any terrorist group threatening any country in the region has to be opposed.

The US, she said, has not yet seen "decisive or sustained changes" in Pakistan's behaviour and as a result, "we suspended our military assistance," she said.

"But we are not walking away from Pakistan. This relationship is important to us and we're continuing our intensive dialogue through both our military and civilian channels to discuss how we can work together better," she said, adding that a day before Deputy Secretary John Sullivan and she met with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua who was on a visit to the US.

Pakistan has an important role to play in a peace process, and in stabilising Afghanistan, she said further

"We believe that Pakistan can help change and shape the calculus of the Taliban. We are engaged with Pakistan on how we can work together as well as address Pakistan's legitimate concerns through a negotiated process," she explained.

"Pakistani officials have long expressed concerns ranging from border management to refugees to terrorism that emanates from ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan, and these are issues that need to be addressed during the course of a reconciliation process," Wells said.

She claimed that senior officials of the US and Pakistan are engaged in an "intensive dialogue".

"We have a calibrated our relationship with Pakistan in a very different way than other administrations. We've gone much further and underscored the importance and the centrality of this issue to our ability to expand relations with Pakistan," Wells said.

The senior State Department official also referred to the recent US announcement of rewards for three leaders of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

"We oppose groups that are targeting Pakistan. Of course, we oppose groups that are targeting Afghanistan," she said while responding to a question.

The US State Department said on Thursday it is offering a $5 million reward for information on Mullah Fazlullah, the Afghanistan-based TTP chief. 

The announcement came a day after Fazlullah's son was reportedly killed along with around two dozen others in a US drone strike in Afghanistan.

It said in a statement that it also is offering rewards of $3 million each for information on Abdul Wali, the head of a TTP affiliate, and Mangal Bagh, the leader of a terrorist group accused of attacking NATO convoys.