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October 10, 2017

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Pak Army equipped with European, Chinese, Russian weapons: PM

Pak Army equipped with European, Chinese, Russian weapons: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said Pakistan is no longer dependent on the United States (US) to meet its military and other requirements and would reach out to others if one source dries up.

“If one source dries up, we have no option but to go to another source. It may cost more, it may consume more resources, but we have to fight that war [against terrorism], and that’s what we emphasised to all the people that we have met,” Abbasi said in his interview with the Arab News.

The prime minister said any sanctions or restraints put on the country’s systems would only degrade its efforts to fight terror, affecting the equation in the region. “We have major US weapons systems in our military, but we have also diversified. We have Chinese and European systems as well. Recently for the first time, we inducted Russian attack helicopters,” he said.

To a question, the prime minister said: “The reality today is that much of the area bordering Pakistan is controlled by the Taliban. The people we are fighting in Pakistan today, their sanctuaries are in Afghanistan, their leadership is living there, the planning is done there, the logistical bases are there, and they regularly cross the border and attack our installations. We’re fencing our border. We’re open to Afghan liaison officers. We have Afghan refugees here. So if anything is pinpointed and the intelligence is provided, we take action.”

The premier said Pakistan wanted peace in Afghanistan through a solution that is owned and led by the Afghans, warning that Washington’s desire to include India would be detrimental.” “We don’t believe that injecting India into the Pakistan-US relationship will help resolve anything, especially in Afghanistan, where we do not see any role for India. India has a relationship with the US. That is between them and the US,” he said.

Prime Minister Abbasi said for the government, it was a complex job, facing a barrage of domestic and international challenges including terrorism, energy deficit, economic and regional volatility. He said governing a country with a ballooning population of over 207 million was “no walk in the park.”

He said Pakistan being one of the largest countries in the world and a nuclear power, was confronting many issues, including a challenging neighbourhood, war on terror and the Afghanistan conflict. “We have a neighbour to the east with which we’ve had several wars. They (India) are also a nuclear power. We have a dispute. They occupied Kashmir, which is our territory,” he said.

To a question on the next general election, the premier said, “Whatever happens, elections will happen on time and in early August. Pakistan will, God willing, have a new government. Hopefully the same party (PML-N) will come to power,” he said.

On his activities on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Abbasi said he held meetings with several key players including eight heads of state, the UN secretary-general, US Vice President Mike Pence and international investors.

He said the ‘candid’ discussion with Pence was essential for official engagements in the future because when Trump’s policy statement on South Asia came out, there were a lot of apprehensions on what it meant, and what it meant for the Pakistan-US relations. “I think we moved substantially forward in that direction. Whatever concerns they (the US) have, we’ve shown our willingness to address those concerns,” he said. He said Pakistan wants an equal relationship or partnership with the US, like every other nation.

About Afghanistan’s situation, Abbasi said, “We can categorically state that we don’t provide any sanctuaries to anybody. The bottom line is today we have a common objective: to destroy terror and bring peace to Afghanistan. We’re partners in the war on terror, and that’s what we  peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan,” added Abbasi.

Prime Minister Abbasi said Pakistan had fought ‘a very hard and vicious’ war on terror, adding that ‘200,000 of our troops are deployed. We have 6,500 Shahuda (martyrs) in the army. We have 21,000 of our citizens who’ve been killed, including police personnel. Almost 35,000 people have been seriously injured.”

He said, “Nobody has fought a bigger war on terror than we have, with our own resources. Even the most conservative economic estimates of Pakistan’s losses are over $120 billion. It has been a very difficult war, but our army has performed very well.”

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