Pakistan deserves appreciation for fighting against terrorism, not accusations: Ahsan Iqbal


MUSCAT: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has called US President Donald Trump’s remarks on terrorism as unfair.

Trump had accused Pakistan of giving safe havens to terrorists.

Iqbal who is currently visiting Oman told Muscat Daily that Pakistan has made innumerable sacrifices in its fight against terrorism and for the peace and stability in the region.

“We have lost close to 70,000 people and the cost to our economy has been more than US$12bn. “Therefore no other country can tell Pakistan we have been harbouring terrorists because we are fighting terrorists and we have successfully cleaned our country of these elements in the last four years through military and security operations.

“As a result, there has been a 90 per cent drop in terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan,” said Iqbal and added that peace and normalcy have been restored in the country due to all-around efforts. “President Trump’s remarks are unfair and do not take into account that the terrorism we are facing in this region is a legacy of the US’s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.”

“These militants were trained by Western agencies to fight the Soviets. After the Soviets withdrew, they left these militants without giving any support for ‘de-weaponising’ and ‘de-radicalising’ them.” He said that Pakistan is living with 3.5 million Afghan refugees from the Soviet war. “No one has given Pakistan a single dollar to support these refugees from the Wests war against the Soviet Union.

“Today, if two dozen Syrian refugees go to Europe or America ‘all hell breaks loose’ or it seems that ‘the sky is falling’. However, we have hosted more than 3 million refugees for more than three decades. Pakistan deserves appreciation, not accusations,” said Iqbal.

“In order to bring stability in Afghanistan, both the US and Pakistan need to collaborate because, without our support, it is not possible to get stability in the region,” he added.

“Pakistan has the most to lose because of Afghanistan’s instability. We have an open border with Afghanistan which has been a source of destabilisation for our country.  Therefore, we are committed to working with the international community to bring about normalcy in Afghanistan so that the refugees can return to their homeland,” Iqbal further explained.

“Mr Trump should facilitate the 3 million refugees (from the Soviet War) so that they can go back to Afghanistan. Because with 3 million refugees living in Pakistan, you can never be 100 per cent sure who is living in their settlements. If he wants to be a 100 per cent sure that there are no miscreants living in Pakistan, he [Trump] must help in repatriating the 3 million refugees,” Iqbal concluded.