Monday, 23 October 2017

Pakistan tells UN won’t be ‘scapegoat’ in Afghan war

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NEW YORK: Pakistan refuses to be a “scapegoat” for Afghanistan’s bloodshed or to fight wars for others, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told the United Nations.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Abbasi did not explicitly criticize US President Donald Trump’s new strategy on Afghanistan but made clear his displeasure with the renewed onus on Pakistan.

“Having suffered and sacrificed so much due to our role in the global counter terrorism campaign, it is especially galling for Pakistan to be blamed for the military or political stalemate in Afghanistan,” Abbasi said.

“We are not prepared to be anyone’s scapegoat,” he said.

“What Pakistan is not prepared to do is to fight the Afghan war on Pakistan’s soil. Nor can we endorse any failed strategy that will prolong and intensify the suffering of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and other regional countries,” he said.

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Abbasi said that 27,000 Pakistanis have been killed by extremists since the launch of the US war on terror after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Abbasi called for a priority on eliminating extremists, including from the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda, in Afghanistan but ultimately a political solution with the Taliban.

US and Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of playing a double-game, with the powerful intelligence services – not the civilian government – maintaining ties with extremists.

US forces tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 in Abbottabad, a popular resort for Pakistan’s military elite.

Trump, unveiling a new strategy last month, pledged to take a tougher line on Pakistan — making public what had long been more private US frustrations.

Trump has sent thousands more US troops into Afghanistan in a bid to defeat the Taliban, reversing his previous calls to end America’s longest-ever war.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in his own speech to the United Nations appealed to Pakistan for dialogue, saying that the neighbors can work together to eliminate extremism.

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Abbasi rakes up Kashmir issue at UN

In his maiden address to the UN General Assembly, Abbasi renewed Pakistan’s offer for dialogue with India on all thorny issues, especially over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

However, he added that such a dialogue was possible only if New Delhi called off its overt and covert campaign of arming and bankrolling agents of terrorism and chaos in Pakistan.

“Pakistan remains open to resuming a comprehensive dialogue with India to address all outstanding issues, especially Kashmir, and discuss measures to maintain peace and security,” he told his audience of global leaders.

Abbasi called for expeditious steps towards the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir with the appointment of a special envoy to promote a just and peaceful settlement of the festering dispute that has led to heightened tensions between India and Pakistan.

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“The international community must act decisively to prevent the situation from a dangerous escalation,” he told the General Assembly, while voicing concern over unabated persecution of unarmed Kashmiris struggling for their right to self-determination.

The prime minister said India had responded with massive and indiscriminate force to suppress the Kashmiris, shooting indiscriminately at children, women and youth. Hundreds of innocent Kashmiris had been killed or injured, he added.

“Shotgun pellets have blinded and maimed thousands of Kashmiris, including children. These and other brutalities clearly constitute war crimes and violate the Geneva conventions.”

Today the Kashmiri people are waging a heroic and popular struggle to rid themselves of India’s oppressive rule, he added.

He urged the international community to call on India to a.) halt pellet gun attacks and other violence against demonstrators; b.) stop the use of rape as an instrument of state policy; c.) end media blackouts; d.) rescind its draconian emergency laws; and f.) free all Kashmiri political leaders.

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