- FO says country’s sacrifices in war against terror have been acknowledged by world community
In response to media queries regarding allegations of safe havens in FATA, the spokesperson of the Foreign Office Friday outrightly rejected the claims and reiterated that Pakistan does not allow its territory to be used for attacks against any other country.
Pakistan’s contribution to the international community’s fight against terrorism and the sacrifices that ‘we rendered have been acknowledged by the world, including the US at various levels of their leadership, EU and others’, he stated in a press statement.
Pakistan’s strong rebuttal comes after a report by US State Department acknowledged the difficulties Pakistan faces in combating terrorists in FATA, saying that the remoteness of the area and the military’s tactical limitations prevent Islamabad from eliminating all terrorist safe havens.
But at an afternoon news briefing a few days ago, a department spokesman Mark Toner also endorsed Kabul’s claim that the existence of safe havens in FATA allowed terrorists to carry out attacks inside Afghanistan whenever they want.
He urged the Pakistani government to realise that “Afghanistan’s security, Pakistan’s security, indeed India’s security, they’re all interconnected”. The three countries, he said, needed to work together to defeat terrorism.
Pakistan has lost thousands of its citizens and economic losses of over US$100 billion due to the menace of terrorism.
The successes of Zarb-e-Azb are manifested in the improved security and economic situation in Pakistan, particularly near Pakistan-Afghanistan border, he maintained.
He stated that the results of our military action were there for everyone to see through peace and stability at our borders with Afghanistan.
The US Parliamentarians and US Commanders have visited FATA and publicly acknowledged the successes of Pakistan’s counter terrorism drive, he added.
Afghanistan is infested with many terrorist organisations due to the instability there, which has created space for terrorist elements such as Haqqani Network’s leadership, TTA, TTP, Daesh, Al-Qaeda, Jamaat-ul-Ahraar, etc. It is, therefore, not appropriate to blame others for the adversities due to the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, he stated and added that the often repeated claims regarding safe havens are, therefore, more of a rhetoric than anything else.
“We wish to reemphasise that some foreign elements are exploiting the situation and using Afghan soil against Pakistan, in particular, and the region, at large. The activities of Indian RAW and NDS nexus remains a matter of deep concern to Pakistan,” he underlined.
He said Pakistan remains committed to peace efforts in Afghanistan as it is not only in the interest of the region but more importantly, Pakistan.
“It is unfortunate that our sincere efforts towards stability in Afghanistan are being maligned,” he deplored.
Pakistan wants peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are engaged in border management which is imperative for effective counter terrorism. Pakistan will continue its policy of cooperation with international community to defeat the menace of terrorism. We will not indulge in blame game and expect others to do the same, he concluded.
The US State Department spokesman’s comments followed twin suicide blasts near the Afghan parliament on Tuesday that killed scores. Another blast in Kandahar wounded the UAE Ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi and some other diplomats.
Soon after the blasts, a government spokesman in Kabul said that the terrorists were able to strike targets inside Afghanistan whenever they wanted because Pakistan had allowed them to maintain safe havens in FATA, a charge Islamabad rejects as baseless.
“The short answer to your … question is yes,” said Toner when a journalist asked if Washington endorsed Kabul’s allegation.
“We’ve been very frank and very open about publicly saying to Pakistan that it needs to not provide any safe haven to groups that will or are intent on carrying out attacks on Afghanistan.”
Toner, however, said that Pakistan had made “some progress” and had taken “some steps to address these safe havens, but clearly the problem persists”.
That’s why the United States continues to urge Pakistan to act against all terrorist groups without any discrimination and was “willing to help them” do so, he said.
“But given Pakistan’s reluctance to act against these safe havens, do you think there’s need to review the US policy towards Pakistan because it’s not working?” asked a journalist.
“I don’t have anything in that regard to speak to except to say that it is an ongoing issue of concern. It’s something we raise regularly with Pakistan’s leadership,” the spokesman said. “Part of it is, one could argue, the difficulty of going after some of these safe havens given the remote areas that they’re in and providing — or ensuring that the Pakistan military has the capabilities to do so.”