Pakistan desires friendly ties with Trump admin


–Sartaj says US has no plan to impose travel ban on Pakistanis

— Adviser points out blatant ceasefire violations at LoC by India

— Trump advised taking more ‘hard-line approach’ to Pakistan


Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said that Pakistan desires good, friendly and lasting ties with President Donald Trump-led American administration.

Talking to journalists at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) here on Saturday, he said that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s first contact with President Trump was a very pleasant one. Pakistan and the US have some common objectives mainly the situation in Afghanistan, eradication of terrorism and enhancement in trade.

He pointed out that Pakistan would continue to raise the Kashmir issue at every forum and platform. “I have given a policy statement on the floor of the House as well,” he said. For the resolution of this outstanding issue, a number of letters had already been written to the UN secretary-general and the UN Security Council in this very regard, the adviser said.

He stated that Indian had been trying to divert world attention on the Kashmir issue by imputing false and baseless allegations. However, now there were voices emerging from within India itself that the Kashmir issue was a reality and its solution would have to be found, he said. Sartaj also spoke of the blatant violations of the Line of Control (LOC) by India.

“Pakistan always gave a befitting reply to the unprovoked Indian firing along the ceasefire line from time-to-time,” he pointed out. He said that India has now realised that the Kashmir issue cannot be suppressed. To a question regarding the detention of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the adviser said that the Jamaat-ud-Daawa chief had been detained under the National Action Plan and this matter pertains to the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

To another question, he said that there was no plan under consideration for placing travel restrictions on the Pakistanis by the US. On the other hand, the Hudson Institute and the Heritage Foundation urged the US president to adopt a new policy which involves a more vigorous effort to force Pakistan to break ties with militant groups.

The think-tanks look to advise President Trump to take a more ‘hard-line approach’ to Pakistan and to try and force a change in policy in the country. The report was compiled by ‘experts’ including Lisa Curtis of the Heritage, Husain Haqqani and Aparna Pande of Hudson, Christine Fair of the Georgetown University, John Gill of the National Defence University and Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution among others.

Titled ‘A New US Approach to Pakistan: Enforcing Aid Conditions Without Cutting Ties,’ the report suggests that designating Pakistan a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ in the first year of his first term would be a risky move by the president, but that the move should not be ruled out as a long term method of swaying Pakistani policy.

Heavily critical of the Obama administration’s policy of trying to bribe Pakistan to change its policy, the working group that compiled the result claimed that “the carrots were not backed by the threat of effective sticks.” The report is a significant move away from Barack Obama’s hopes of wanting to change the world and Pakistan’s worldview with it, and promotes the implementation of a more pragmatic Pakistan policy that forces policy change by tightening the military establishment.

Shunning the previous US approach of trying to direct Pakistan’s policy through additional aid or military equipment, the think tanks urge the new administration to engage with Pakistan by realistically examining its aspirations and world views.