Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday told a House committee the United States could consider revoking Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally over its support of militant groups.
Mattis testified before the House Armed Services Committee about the war in Afghanistan, saying Afghan security forces are fully engaged in operations for the first time in 16 years. He and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also attended a hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
Mattis told the House panel the United States would try “one more time to make this strategy work with” Pakistan, which has been accused of supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“And if our best efforts fail, the president is prepared to take whatever steps are necessary,” Mattis said.
Asked if that included expanded U.S. drone strikes and downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally, Mattis said, “I am sure it will be.”
President Donald Trump on Aug. 21 singled out Pakistan for harboring terrorist organizations. He made the comments during a speech in Fort Myer in Arlington, Va., about his strategy in Afghanistan.
“For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror,” Trump said. “The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states, whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict, and that could happen.”
Dunford, speaking to the Senate panel Tuesday, said he believed Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, “has connections with terrorist groups.”
Mattis told the Senate Armed Forces Committee that the United States would “firmly address” Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan and NATO’s demand that Pakistan rein in terror groups.
“NATO’s demands need to be heard and embraced in Islamabad,” Mattis said.
By Danielle Haynes