US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will visit Pakistan next week as part of a four-nation tour during which he is expected to pressure Islamabad to do more against militant groups. During the tour, Mattis will visit Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Kuwait to re-affirm the enduring US' commitment to partnerships in the Middle East, West Africa and South Asia, the Pentagon said. Mattis would reach Pakistan on December 4, the second such trip after US President Donald Trump announced his South Asia strategy on August 21.
Trump while announcing the strategy had criticised Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists. Pakistan denies sheltering the militants, and the issue has emerged as a major irritant to bilateral ties. In October, Mattis had said the US would try "one more time" to work with Pakistan before taking "whatever steps are necessary" to address its alleged support for the militants. During his Pakistan visit, Mattis is expected to meet Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa. Early this week, Gen John Nicholson, the commander of the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, rued that Pakistan has not been able to carry out the counterterrorism actions which it promised to the Trump administration after the announcement of the new South Asia Strategy. The US is also outraged at the release of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed from house arrest in Pakistan. The Trump Administration had said his release belies Pakistan's claim that it is not a sanctuary for terrorists.
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