EXCLUSIVE: FM gears up for diplomatic offensive before US trip

  • Khawaja Asif’s planned visit to Washington to be rescheduled after visit to friendly states
  • Minister to visit China, Turkey, Iran, Russia and other countries to discuss new strategy

Pakistan on Thursday decided to launch a diplomatic offensive to muster maximum diplomatic support from friendly countries to counter the American pressure over the Afghanistan issue.

A source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Pakistan Today that the civil and military leadership has decided in principle not to be bullied by the US pressure and rather muster diplomatic support to counter the American hounding.

The source said that the high-level civil-military huddle noted with satisfaction the diplomatic support Pakistan had already attained from friendly nations over the harsh and uncalled for allegations leveled by US President Donald Trump.

“The meeting noted with satisfaction the diplomatic support Islamabad had received from trusted allies like Beijing, Ankara, Riyadh, Tehran and others. The support from Moscow in favour of Pakistan suggests that Pakistan has considerable support in the comity of nations which needs to be capitalised.”

For capitalising the diplomatic support, the source said that the meeting has decided that Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja Muhammad Asif’s planned visit to Washington would be delayed for the time being and it would be rescheduled once the minister returns from his foreign trips.

“It has been decided that Foreign Minister Asif would soon be leaving for China where he is expected to hold meetings with his Chinese counterpart. He minister also plans to visit Iran, Turkey, Russia and other countries to discuss future course of action,” the source added.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi briefed the military leadership on his recent trip to Saudi Arabia where he met with the Saudi leadership and took them into confidence over the developing situation.

The source said that other than the foreign minister, some influential lawmakers, irrespective of their political affiliations, would also travel to various countries for effective lobbying over the US threats and arm-twisting.

The meeting observed that the US wanted to scapegoat Pakistan for its failed policy in Afghanistan over the past 16 years which had not only resulted in developing a human disaster in the war-torn country, but this policy had also led to destabilisation of the entire neighbourhood.

The source said that the meeting noted with concern that the flawed Afghan policy adopted by the US administration had also helped mushroom growth of local and global terrorist groups who had found a new but volatile area to grow with impunity.

“The meeting noted that hardcore terrorist like the Islamic State had not only found a foothold in Afghanistan but the terrorists were striking in the most secure zone of the Afghan capital. The group has also posed a new threat to the region which is now poised to share Pakistan’s viewpoint to resolve Afghan issue through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.”

The source said that Foreign Minister Asif would hold a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson soon in Washington to discuss their new South Asia policy.