US says Pakistan ‘has right to defend itself from terrorism’

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The United States has thrown its weight behind the counter-terrorism decisions taken by the National Security Committee (NSC) in its recent meeting, saying “Pakistan has a right to defend itself from terrorism”.

The statement from US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price comes two days after the NSC — the highest civil-military forum for decisions on matters pertaining to national security — expressed firm resolve to crush terrorist groups operating against Pakistan.

In the NSC meeting that spanned for two days from Dec 31 to Jan 1, the forum had categorically asked Afghanistan’s rulers — without directly naming them — to deny safe haven to Pakistani terrorist groups on its soil and end their patronage, while reiterating its intent to crush terrorist groups operating inside the country with full force.

The uncharacteristically strong-worded statement issued at the end of the NSC meeting said: “Pakistan’s security is uncompromisable and the full writ of the state will be maintained on every inch of Pakistan’s territory.”

At a press briefing on Tuesday, the US State Department spokesperson said the US was aware of the NSC’s recent statement.

“The Pakistani people have suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks. Pakistan has a right to defend itself from terrorism,” Price said in response to a question.

He said that the [Afghan] Taliban must uphold the very commitment they had made that their soil would never be used as a launchpad for international terrorist attacks.

“These are among the very commitments that the Taliban have been unable or unwilling to fulfil to date,” he added.

The meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and attended by key ministers, services chiefs, and top intelligence officials, also endorsed the government’s road map for the restoration of economic stability in the country.

The NSC meeting was called to deliberate on the surge in terrorist attacks and the deepening economic crisis.

Most of the attacks have been carried out by the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The increase in border incidents involving Taliban forces was also discussed at the forum.

The committee agreed on a number of steps to deal with the worsening security situation, which has also drawn the attention of a number of important capitals prompting them to issue advisories for their nationals residing here.

The most important of all these actions was to send an unequivocal message to neighbouring Afghanistan to end all its support to TTP.

“No country will be allowed to provide sanctuaries and facilitation to terrorists and Pakistan reserves all rights in that respect to safeguard her people,” the NSC statement read.

The warning was sent out in the midst of an escalating war of words between the two countries over TTP and the border dispute.