Tuesday, 19 June 2018

No alliance with US: Pakistan

Rex Tillerson,Khawaja Asif

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has said it is being treated like a “whipping boy” and has no alliance with the US after Washington suspended security assistance to the country.

“We do not have any alliance” with the US , said Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif in an interview with Geo TV on Friday. “This is not how allies behave.”

Asif said Pakistan has completely destroyed the sanctuaries of the Haqqani network in the country. He said Pakistan had repeatedly been the target of allegations by the United States regarding the presence of the Haqqani network. However, he clarified that his country had never denied the possibility of an ‘unorganised presence’ of the terrorist organisation.

“We do not totally reject that allegation. We say that there is no organised presence [of the Haqqani network] in our country. We have destroyed their entire organised presence, including their sanctuaries, safe havens or areas under their control, either in North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Khyber, or Bajaur agency,” said the foreign minister, inviting US officials to visit the tribal areas themselves. “They should come and visit. We will take them to these areas. We have destroyed (sanctuaries) but the possibility still remains of their unorganised presence.”

Asif , while responding to a question regarding the treatment of the problem, said Afghan refugees should be sent back to Afghanistan and border management is vital as 645 kilometres of border is lying exposed.

The foreign minister also said that the US policy regarding Afghanistan has been inconsistent over the years, with its own ups and downs.

The foreign minister had described Washington in a TV interview the previous day as “a friend who always betrays”.

Don’t need security aid at cost of national dignity: ISPR

 The military said that the suspension of US assistance will undermine bilateral security cooperation and regional peace efforts but will not deter the Pakistan’s counterterrorism resolve.

“Pakistan never fought for money but for peace,” Army spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor told VOA.

“Suspension of security assistance will not affect Pakistan’s resolve to fight terrorism; however, it for sure will have an impact on Pakistan-US security cooperation and efforts towards regional peace,” noted General Ghafoor.

Military-led counterterrorism operations, he added, have targeted terrorists “indiscriminately,” including Haqqanis at a “heavy cost of blood and treasure.” There are no more “organised” terrorist sanctuaries inside Pakistan, Ghafoor maintained.

“Casting doubts on our will is not good to our common objective of moving toward enduring peace and stability. Pakistan shall continue its sincere efforts in best interest of Pakistan and peace,” the spokesman said.

Ghafoor said Pakistan will not compromise on its national dignity .

Critics in the United States are questioning the Trump administration’s move to cut security assistance to Pakistan. Former State Department official Shamila Chaudhry notes the security assistance to Pakistan directly pays for sales of US military equipment, training of the Pakistani military and indirectly for moving material for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan through Pakistani air and ground routes.

“Does US still need Pakistani routes for war in Afghanistan?” Chaudhry asked in comments she posted on her official Twitter account.

She went on to recall that when Pakistan closed the communication lines in the past, the US used routes known as the “Northern Distribution Network — but ultimately it was too expensive & involved dealing with a difficult Russia.”

Chaudhry apparently was referring to the months-long closure by Pakistan of NATO supply lines in 2011 in reaction to US airstrikes that mistakenly hit and killed 24 Pakistani border forces.

Islamabad restored the supply lines only after Washington submitted a formal apology.

US funds did not run Pak anti-terror war: FO

Pakistan foreign ministry said that Islamabad was not dependent on the US aid for its war on terror .

Reacting to the United States’ decision to cut aid to Pakistan, the foreign ministry said Pakistan had fought the war against terrorism largely from its own resources “which has cost over $120 billion in 15 years.”

In a carefully-worded response, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said Pakistan was engaged with the US on the issue of security cooperation and await further details. “[The] impact of US’ decision on pursuit of common objectives is also likely to emerge more clearly in due course of time. It, however, needs to be appreciated that Pakistan has fought the war against terrorism largely from its own resources. We are determined to continue to do all it takes to secure the lives of our citizens and broader stability in the region,” he said in a statement.

Earlier, the US said it was suspending security assistance to Pakistan targeting the Coalition Support Funds .

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said for now the US was suspending “security assistance only” to Pakistan. She maintained that Pakistan would be able to receive the suspended funding if it took “decisive actions” against the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan says the money it had received from the US was mainly reimbursements for supporting US-led coalition forces after they invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

Dr Faisal said Pakistan-US cooperation in fighting terrorism had directly served the US national security interests as well as the larger interests of the international community. “It has helped decimate Al-Qaeda and fight other groups who took advantage of ungoverned spaces, a long porous border and posed a common threat to peace. Through a series of major counter-terrorism operations Pakistan cleared all these areas resulting in elimination of organised terrorist presence leading to significant improvement in security in Pakistan,” he said.

Faisal added: “Our efforts towards peace are awaiting reciprocal actions from the Afghan side in terms of clearance of vast stretches of ungoverned spaces on the Afghan side, bilateral border management, repatriation of Afghan refugees, controlling poppy cultivation, drug trafficking and initiating Afghan-led and owned political reconciliation in Afghanistan.”

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