President Donald Trump (c) announcing U.S. Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster (l) as his national security adviser and Keith Kellogg (r) as McMaster’s chief of staff  at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Feb. 20. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. will ask nations that harbor terror networks to eliminate them and will target terrorists in their sanctuaries, a top Trump administration official has said, in an apparent message to Pakistan, Aug. 24, writes Lalit K. Jha.

“We will demand that nations ultimately provide for their own security. Those that harbor terrorist networks must eliminate them,” Lt Gen (Retd) Keith Kellogg, Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff of the National Security Council, wrote in an op-ed to Breitbart News.

In the op-ed he did not mention any country, but based on the remarks of President Donald Trump and those of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who called on Pakistan to act against the terror safe havens inside its territory, Kellogg’s reference seemed obviously directed at Pakistan.

“We will fight those that threaten us wherever they may be. We will fight them at night, in the day, in their supposed sanctuaries. We will give them no rest nor will we grow weary,” Kellogg said in the op-ed to Breitbart News, which is now headed by Steve Bannon, who till last week was the White House Chief Strategist.

“While our brave men and women in uniform are waging battle on the ground and from the air, President Trump will be using every diplomatic and economic tool at his disposal to bring about an end state that does not allow another country to become a breeding ground for radical Islamic terrorism,” he said.

Kellogg said over the past several months, he has seen and listened as the President has taken the time for counsel and to weigh different options for Afghanistan and the region.

“He (Trump) has heard from his commanders in the field and, yes, he has listened to his Generals. I have heard him ask the tough questions and demand accountability from those responsible for leading our men and women in harm’s way,” Kellogg said.

President Trump has listened to strong recommendations from his national security team and has engaged them in deep and thoughtful discussions, he said.

“He has demanded a way forward placing primacy on the safety of America and her citizens. From the beginning, President Trump has sworn to put America First. Monday, he outlined a course that places us closer to that vision than ever before,” Kellogg asserted.

“The path forward is not more of the same. Through strength we seek a negotiated political settlement that protects our interests,” the top U.S. official said.

The U.S. does not seek territorial conquest or occupation and does not intend to create a government after its own image, Kellogg asserted.

“We will not set arbitrary timelines. We will use our integrated military, political, and economic efforts to promote stability in the region,” said the top White House official.

Kellogg said Trump’s decision reflects an understanding that the promise to ‘Make America Great Again’ must include cleaning up the mess left behind in Afghanistan from the fits and starts of the past 15 years.

“The President does not have the luxury of starting from nothing, or beginning from scratch. There is no such thing as a clean slate. However, there is now the opportunity for fresh perspectives, new ideas and the outsider advantage,” he said.

Kellogg’s remarks come just days after Trump said it has been decided that the American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically and American troops will “fight to win.”

Trump, in his first prime-time televised address as commander-in-chief, had also issued the sternest warning yet by an American leader to Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists and sought an enhanced role for India in bringing peace in the war-ravaged country.