- Four regionally important countries back Pak on US revised policy
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday told the Senate that Pakistan has categorically stated that it cannot be blamed for United States’ policy failures, nor is it ready to be anybody’s scapegoat.
Asif while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, stated that he paid visits to four regionally important countries following the announcement of the revised US policy regarding the region. He further apprised that all the four countries fully backed Pakistan’s stance towards the newly announced US policy.
“[All these] countries also had reservations about the new US policy. We also consulted Saudi Arabia on the new US policy. All these friendly countries advised us to hold talks with the US,” Asif told the Senate.
The foreign minister said Pakistan’s ties with the US were disrupted following the latter’s revised policy. “The US [Secretary of State] was stopped from touring Pakistan. The parliamentary resolutions also sent a strong message to the US,” Asif highlighted.
Earlier on Wednesday, Asif told senators that Pakistan had pointed out the failure of the American forces in Afghanistan to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, while asserting that Islamabad will cooperate with Washington in the war against terrorism, but without compromising on its sovereignty.
Asif said that the Pakistani side told the American delegation that their military solution to resolve the Afghanistan issue had failed to achieve the objectives, therefore, they should now allow their policymakers to device a policy for Afghanistan.
The foreign minister, referring to the meeting held with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, stated that the meeting had been held in a cordial atmosphere and there had been no allegations, adding that both countries were determined to collaborate to eliminate terrorism from the region.
Asif had also explicitly stated that Pakistan would not get involved in a proxy war but would continue to play its role for peace and security in the region.
Earlier, in an interview with BBC, Asif said that there is a “huge trust deficit” between Pakistan and the US over the Afghan conflict.
“There is basically one key factor which is missing in our relationship that is trust. We have a huge trust deficit. We are desperately trying, both parties Americans and Pakistanis to bridge this trust deficit.”
The foreign minister stressed that Pakistan did not have terrorist safe havens and the US was not buying Pakistan’s narrative, neither was Pakistan buying the narrative of the US. “But we are talking. They must do some self-accountability also. Why have they lost 45% of Afghan territory in last 10-12 years.”
No terrorist safe havens in Pakistan
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday said that Pakistan, in the meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, made it clear that no terrorist safe havens exist on Pakistani soil.
Speaking to Geo News, the minister said that, in the meeting with Tillerson earlier in the day, the civil and military leadership presented a detailed narrative about its stance on the country’s war against terrorism.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had stated that the United States was concerned that extremist groups pose a threat to the “stability and security” of the Pakistan government.
‘US should seek truth in its Afghanistan strategy’
Earlier, a meeting of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs was held presided by its new Chairman Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar.
In his opening remarks, the chairman said Pakistan’s response to President Trump’s South Asian policy has been collective, measured and based on realistic assessment of the situation. He said, “It was a moment of truth for the US in Afghanistan.” He underlined the importance of “not turning our differences into disputes.”
The chairman appreciated the steps taken by Pakistan to improve border management along the Pak-Afghan border, and the need for repatriation of Afghan refugees and their settlement in Afghanistan.
He emphasised the importance of engaging the US in promoting peace in Afghanistan. He expressed the hope that the US will not see Pakistan through the Afghan prism and work on a broad-based relationship, which will be beneficial for both countries.
The chairman thanked the foreign minister for his comprehensive briefing on the agenda items relating to President Trump’s statement and the visit of the foreign minister to China, Iran, Turkey and Russia.
The committee members appreciated the briefing given by Asif and raised questions on Pakistan-US relations, the situation in Afghanistan, relations with regional countries.
The committee, meanwhile, criticised the statement made by the President of Afghanistan relating to CPEC. The committee expressed serious concern over the remarks made by US Secretary of State in Kabul and Dehli with regards to Pakistan.
The committee, taking note of Black Day on Oct 27, condemned atrocities and grave human rights violations in India-occupied Kashmir and denial of the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir under UN resolutions.
On agenda regarding Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case in the International Court of Justice, the Additional Attorney General briefed the committee on the current status of the case before the ICJ and Pakistan’s legal options.
The members who attended the meeting included Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Sahibzada Muhammad Nazeer Sultan, Muhammad Khan Daha, Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan, Dr Nafisa Shah, Dr Shireen Mehrunnisa Mazari, Ghous Bux Khan Maher, Dr Muhammad Farooq Sattar, MNAs and senior officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cabinet Division as well as Additional Attorney General.