He said he would also seek to deepen and broaden the defense cooperation between India and the US through the Quad security dialogue and other regional multilateral engagements.
Austin said his understanding is that Pakistan has taken constructive steps to meet US requests in support of the Afghanistan peace process. Pakistan has also taken steps against anti-Indian groups, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, although this progress is incomplete, he said.
Many factors in addition to the security assistance suspension may impact Pakistan's cooperation, including Afghanistan negotiations and the dangerous escalation following the Pulwama terrorist attack, Austin said. President Donald Trump had suspended all the financial and security aid to Pakistan in 2018 citing lack of cooperation from Islamabad in the fight against terrorism.
If confirmed, Austin said he will press Pakistan to prevent its territory from being used as a sanctuary for militants and violent extremist organizations. Continuing to build relationships with Pakistan's military will provide openings for the United States and Pakistan to cooperate on key issues, he said.
Austin said he will focus on the shared interests which include training future Pakistan military leaders through the use of International Military Education and Training funds. Pakistan will play an important role in any political settlement in Afghanistan. We also need to work with Pakistan to defeat al-Qaeda and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and to enhance regional stability, he said.
Observing that Pakistan is an essential partner in any peace process in Afghanistan, Austin said that if confirmed, he will encourage a regional approach that garners support from neighbours like Pakistan, while also deterring regional actors from serving as spoilers to the Afghanistan peace process.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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