The US will press Pakistan to target all terrorist groups without distinction, America’s ambassadorial nominee to Islamabad Donald Blome told lawmakers on Tuesday. Blome is currently the US Ambassador to Tunisia.
During his confirmation hearing, the nominee for the US ambassador to Pakistan told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, On the critical issue of counterterrorism, if confirmed, I will press Pakistan to target all terrorist groups without distinction. Underlining that the US and Pakistan are committed to combating Al-Qaida, ISIS-Khorasan and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Blome said, if confirmed, he will also engage Pakistan on fighting all other groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
Asserting that the region can ill afford another conflict, especially between nuclear-armed states, Blome said, if confirmed, he will work with his colleagues to decrease tensions between India and Pakistan. I have been encouraged by the continued ceasefire along the Line of Control. Strong US bilateral partnerships with India and Pakistan are not mutually exclusive; we need productive ties with both states. Pakistan and India should decide the pace, scope and character of their bilateral interactions, he said.
Blome assured the lawmakers that if confirmed as ambassador, he will never shy away from defending human rights in Pakistan, particularly freedom of religion and expression. Religious minorities in Pakistan have long faced societal and legal discrimination, as well as accusations of blasphemy. These accusations have undermined the rule of law, threatened mob rule, deeply damaged Pakistan’s international reputation and led to murderous violence and many deaths. If confirmed, I will speak out against these abuses and violations of human rights and religious freedom, he said The diplomat said he will urge the Pakistani government to cease harassment of journalists and members of civil society, who have faced kidnappings, assaults, intimidation and disappearances, and hold perpetrators of these actions accountable.
”I will advocate for expanded protections for freedom of association and assembly and will meet with civil society partners regularly, Blome said. Observing that events in Afghanistan weigh heavily on him, Blome said he had served there as Embassy Kabul’s top political officer in 2012 and 2013.
If confirmed, I will prioritise the safe relocation from Afghanistan of any US citizens, lawful permanent residents, special immigrant visa applicants, and other Afghans to whom we have a special responsibility, along with their family members, he said. Mission Pakistan also plays an important role on encouraging an inclusive Afghan government that respects and promotes the human rights of all individuals, including women and girls and members of minority groups, and ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorism, Blome said.