Tillerson Says US Would Consider Punishing Pakistan Over Insurgents

(CN) – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday warned Pakistan that if it doesn’t do more to crack down on the Taliban and other extremists, it risks losing its status as a major non-NATO ally of the U.S.

Tillerson said a number of options, including unspecified punishment, are “on the table” if Pakistan fails to act on extremist groups within its borders.

In doing so, Tillerson reiterated assertions President Trump made in a prime time address Monday night outlining what he described as a new strategy for the war Afghanistan.

“Pakistan and the U.S. historically had very good relationships, but over the last few years there has been a real erosion in the confidence of between our two governments,” Tillerson told reporters during a Tuesday afternoon news conference at the State Department.

“There’s been an erosion in trust because we have witnessed terrorist organizations being given a safe haven inside of Pakistan to plan and carry out attacks against U.S. servicemen, U.S. officials, disrupting peace efforts inside of Afghanistan, he said.”

Trump took a hard line on Pakistan in a primetime speech explaining his approach to the conflict in Afghanistan.

If Tillerson sought to soften the president’s tough rhetoric, it was in stressing Tuesday that the U.S. is ready to work to help Pakistan tamp down on insurgents.

But he said Pakistan needs to take definitive steps to take matters in hand itself.

“We are going to be conditioning our support for Pakistan and our relationship with them on them delivering results in this area,” Tillerson said. “We want to work with Pakistan in a positive way, but they must change their approach.”

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