The new South Asia policy announced by U.S. President Donald Trump does not account for the multiple dimensions of the Afghanistan situation and by solely focussing on Pakistan’s alleged support to the Taliban, the U.S. is setting itself up for defeat, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said on Thursday. He was speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Mr. Asif, who met U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster on Thursday, said that the meetings were “not bad”, but acknowledged that there was trust deficit between the two countries. He said that even if one were to concede that Pakistan is supporting the Taliban and giving it shelter, there were several more serious issues — internal to Afghanistan — that make its route to stability difficult.
‘Language of threat’
Pushing back strongly against the Trump administration’s efforts to put pressure on Pakistan, Mr. Asif said that his country could not be used as a “whipping boy” for the U.S.’s failures in the region, and that the language of threat and intimidation was “not acceptable to Pakistan”.
Referring to the U.S.’s accusations that madrasas in Pakistan are used to produce jihadists, he said: “these madrasas were nurseries for American jihad in Afghanistan”.
‘Many more dimensions’
“There are many more dimensions to what is going on in Afghanistan… [A] corrupt government in Kabul, the increasing narcotics trade, Afghan Army selling arms to the Taliban… and bringing Daesh to Afghanistan,” he said, referring to the Islamic State.
“Let’s see this conflict in its entirety, in totality. Do not treat Pakistan like a whipping boy. That’s not acceptable… We want to cooperate with the U.S. We are the direct beneficiary of peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said.
Reiterating his recent remarks that terrorist leaders like Hafiz Saeed were now a liability for the country, he remarked: “We will find ways and means to wrapping up this business. This is a liability (but) this cannot be wrapped up overnight.”
Blames India for logjam
Blaming India for the current logjam in bilateral relations, he said “sadly India did not respond” to Pakistani efforts. “What is going on in Kashmir is the biggest roadblock to normalisation to talks,” he added.
Referring to the statement of the Indian Air Force Chief B.S. Dhanoa that the Indian armed forces are ready for a full spectrum operation, Mr. Asif said that if India carries out any surgical strike inside Pakistan or strikes at its nuclear installations, no one should expect restraint from his country.
“I cannot be more diplomatic,” he said,, adding that “relationship with India is at its lowest ebb at the moment”.
By: The Hindu
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