Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, who has been nominated by United States President Donald Trump to be his next Secretary of State, is seen as an advocate of a tough policy on Pakistan.
Trump, in a tweet, announced to fire Rex Tillerson as his top diplomat. Trump, said he personally decided to fire Tillerson, because of the differences he had with the former Exxon CEO on a range of issues.
While he did not give a laundry list of such differences except for saying that they were not on the same page, his Af-Pak policy, in particularly the State Department’s perceived soft approach to Pakistan was one of them, if the sources are to be believed.
The State Department under Tillerson of late had been advocating for a softer approach on Pakistan in the months since Trump announced on January 1 to suspend all aid to Islamabad till the time it eliminates terrorist safe haven from within its territory.
However, the Pentagon and the intelligence community, whose workforce are the prime victim of terrorism coming out of safe haven had been advocating from a tough approach on Pakistan.
Tillerson’s successor Mike Pompeo who currently is the CIA Director, National Security Advisor Lt Gen H R McMaster and the Defence Secretary Jim Mattis were seen to be on the same page when it came to Afghanistan and Pakistan, which Trump Administration has evolved into a comprehensive South Asia Policy. India is a central aspect of this policy.
Week’s before Trump announced his decision on Pakistan through a tweet on the wee hours of January 1, Pompeo had warned Pakistan.
Appearing at the Regan Defence Forum at Simi Valley in California, in the first week of December, the CIA Director said if Pakistan does not act against terrorist safe havens in the country the US will.
The Trump administration would deal with the situation if Pakistan turned down Washington’s request to destroy safe havens, he then said.
“In the absence of the Pakistanis achieving that, we are going to do everything we can to make sure that that safe haven no longer exists,” Pompeo had said.
Pompeo reiterated this a week after Trump announced to freeze security assistance to Pakistan.
“We see the Pakistanis continuing to provide safe harbour, havens inside of Pakistan for terrorists who present risks to the United States of America,” Pompeo was quoted as saying by CBS.
“We are doing our best to inform the Pakistanis that this is no longer going to be acceptable. So this conditioned aid, we have given them a chance. If they fix this problem, we are happy to continue to engage with them and be their partner. But if they don’t, we are going to protect America,” Pompeo said.
He was responding to questions on the decision of the Trump Administration to suspend approximately $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan for its inability to take decisive actions against terrorist and militant groups operating from its soil.
“The president has made very clear that he needs Pakistan to cease being a safe haven for terrorists that threaten the United States of America, end, period, full stop,” Pompeo said, reflecting on the stand taken by Trump.
Trump told reporters that he and Pompeo are on the same page. “With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s going to go very well,” Trump said.
Pompeo graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the US army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School. He went on to serve in the US House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.
“As Director of the CIA, Mike has earned the praise of members in both parties by strengthening our intelligence gathering, modernizing our defensive and offensive capabilities, and building close ties with our friends and allies in the international intelligence community,” Trump said.
“I have gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture. He will continue our program of restoring America's standing in the world, strengthening our alliances, confronting our adversaries, and seeking the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” said the US president.
Trump said his experience in the military, Congress, and as leader of the CIA have prepared him well for his new role. He urged the Senate for his swift confirmation. Top American Senators were quick to respond to Trump's call and promised a quick confirmation process for Pompeo.
“I had a very good conversation with Director Pompeo this morning and look forward to meeting with him soon. As I shared with the president, the committee will consider his nomination as expeditiously as possible,” Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said.
Senator Marco Rubio said Pompeo is an excellent choice. “His experience as CIA Director, an army officer, and a congressman, and his proven leadership on national security matters give him unique qualifications to lead the State Department at this critical juncture. I will enthusiastically support his nomination and am hopeful he can be confirmed quickly,” he said.
Image: US President Trump said that he and Mike Pompeo are on the same page and have a similar thought process. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images