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William Todd, President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next US ambassador to Pakistan, made the statement during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting yesterday. He was joined by other ranking officials such as Senator Bob Menendez, who referred to terrorism as an “insidious threat”.
Mr Todd told lawmakers the US has a strong relationship with India, which itself has clashed with Pakistan over the years due to a tense boundary the two countries share in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the US relationship with Pakistan is “always complicated and sometimes contentious” but “longstanding and important.”
He insisted the US could find a way to have positive ties with both countries.
Mr Todd said: “In terms of regional dynamics, although we have a strong relationship with India, that does not need to come at the expense of Pakistan.
“I believe that under the right conditions, we can have a strong relationship with both countries.
“Our hope is that both countries will take the necessary steps to reduce tensions and as President Trump has offered, we are prepared to facilitate dialogue if both sides request it.
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“To truly reduce regional tensions and rebuild a strong relationship with the United States, Pakistan must take sustained and irreversible action against terrorism.”
Meanwhile, Senator Menendez heaped pressure on Pakistan to “eradicate” groups such as Laskar-e-Taiba which he specifically named.
The group is known for fighting against Indian control in Kashmir and has been accused of a number of attacks in India.
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One such attack in Mumbai killed 174 and injured hundreds more in 2008, the BBC reports, when gunmen used automatic weapons and grenades on a number of city locations including hotels and a central train station.
Senator Menendez said: “For too long, this group has been able to operate in different forms over the years.
“If Pakistan wants us to take its counter-terrorism commitments seriously, it must completely eradicate this group,” according to TimesNowNews.
He added there would be other “challenges” in a relationship between the US and Pakistan, including the “treatment of religious minorities” as well as Pakistan nuclear capability.
Mr Todd added that if he were confirmed as the US ambassador to Pakistan, he would “actively engage” with the country to solve issues between them, including “the threat that nuclear weapons pose to the United States”.
He also said he would enforce human rights in the region, “particularly freedom of religion and expression.”
He referred to the Tahir Naseem – a US citizen who was killed in a Pakistani courtroom in July this year.
The US Department of State said at the time it was “outraged” by the killing.
It added: “Mr. Naseem had been lured to Pakistan from his home in Illinois by individuals who then used Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to entrap him.”
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