US denies 2-week deadline to Pakistan for eliminating Taliban

The US State Department has denied media reports which suggested that Washington had given Islamabad two weeks to eliminate the Taliban operating out of its territory, saying it was not something that could be put into a timeline in terms of taking action.

"I’m not aware of any two-week timeline. This is not something you can put into a timeline in terms of taking action. As I said, it has to be consistent, decisive. And we just need to understand that this is not something we’re going to be able to deal with in two days, two weeks, two months," acting Department Spokesman Robert Wood said at his daily briefing here Friday.

"This is going to take time. But what’s important is, as I said the other day, a hundred and ten percent effort. And Pakistan seems willing to go in that direction, and we’ll continue to try to help them, as they move in that direction," he said.

Mr Wood said he did not know where the two-week timeframe came from but pointed out that the US had said very clearly that it believed the Pakistanis needed to take action against the extremist elements.

"And clearly, the Pakistanis are, you know, trying to do that. We’re going to be working with them, providing assistance where we can, as well as other countries around the world who believe that it’s critical to international security that we deal with the Taliban, and those extremists that are operating not only in Pakistan, but in Afghanistan as well," he said.

Mr Wood said Pakistan was doing this out of its own national security interests and the US would be there to help them.

"But it is important that they not let extremists – let me put it this way, it’s important that these extremists be dealt with. And we’re going to continue, as I said, to work with them and others. And this has been, I think, a positive last couple of days in terms of Pakistan taking action against these militants. And so – but we’re under no illusions. It’s going to take more than two days worth of actions. It’s going to take consistent, determined, and forceful action. And Pakistan seems committed to that, and we’re willing to be as helpful as we can in terms of dealing with the militants," he said.

In reply to another question, Mr Wood said he was not suprised to hear reports about minority communities being asked to pay jaziya (taxes) by the Taliban.

"I’ve heard reports about that. It doesn’t surprise me. I mean, these are ruthless killers, the Taliban. And they’ll do anything they can to upset Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s fragile democracies. And so as I said, I’ve heard these reports. They’re not surprising. This is why it’s important that we, the international community, cooperate in trying to rid this region of these extremists. And the sooner we can accomplish that mission, the better," he said.

As has already been reported, India has taken up with Pakistan the question of treatment of minorities in that country following the media reports that the Taliban had driven out Sikhs from their homes and had demanded jaziya from them in the Orakzai Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

"On seeing reports about Sikh families in Pakistan being driven out of their homes and being subject to Jaziya and other such impositions, the Government of India has taken up the question of treatment of minorities in Pakistan with the Government of Pakistan," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said yesterday in New Delhi when asked about the reports.

The reports said the Taliban had forcibly captured three houses and ten shops belonging to Sikhs in the area after they failed to meet demands for huge amounts of protection money.


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