Rex Tillerson expresses difficulty when dealing with Pakistan


In year-end remarks to staff, U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke on Tuesday at length about the global issues and challenges the State Department faces internally and at the international level (The International News).

“Look, this is a hard job … The actual task at hand, dealing with North Korea, I don’t enjoy that… Dealing with Pakistan, I don’t enjoy,” said Tillerson at a town hall meeting with state department employees (CNN).

“It’s difficult because of the complexity of the issues.”

Tillerson said that in his previous job as Exxon Mobil CEO: “I didn’t have to spend a lot of time worrying about children being killed, people’s rights, dignity being violated in unimaginable ways.”

Tillerson acknowledged that U.S. ties with Pakistan have “really deteriorated” in the last decade (Economic Times). He also said he’s conveyed to Pakistan that its policy of terror safe havens could well backfire.

Over the last decade, the relationship has drifted, and we’ve got to bring this relationship back to one of common interest. Today that’s just not the case. And so we’re engaged in very, very frank discussions with Pakistan over the concerns we have about their own stability and their own future and the threat they’re under by allowing terrorist organizations to operate in their territory, and how we can work together to bring stability and peace to the whole region. And again, we’ve got a great team working in that region as well. A lot of work left to do.”

Tillerson noted that Pakistan and the United States share common interests in eliminating terrorist groups that threaten both Pakistan and the United States but there are some issues that must be solve first like Pakistan’s former relationships with islamic terrorist groups.

“We want to work with Pakistan to stamp out terrorism within their boundaries as well, but Pakistan has to begin the process of changing its relationship with the Haqqani Network and with others. I understand that this is a relationship that has emerged probably for, in their view, good reasons a decade ago, but now that relationship has to be altered because they – if they’re not careful, Pakistan is going to lose control of their own country,” said Tillerson.

However, experts are doubtful that the tough rhetoric from the U.S. will change anything.

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