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November 2, 2017

Pak-US relations not cordial: Khawaja Asif

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November 2, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday said the relations between Pakistan and the US were not cordial and the US was demonstrating its failure by blaming Pakistan.

Winding up a debate on the recent visit of the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Pakistan, the minister said it had been made crystal clear to the US that its wish to appoint India as a ‘policeman’ in the region was in no way acceptable. He made it clear that safeguarding 100 percent interests of Pakistan would be the hallmark of the government policies and there would be no element of tepidness, as was the case in the past. 

Responding to questions raised by the senators, who criticised the US President Donald Trump for his new South Asia policy, Asif said it will be wishful thinking if somebody thinks he has cordial relations with the US. “We are engaged in talks with the US for bringing peace in Afghanistan. Relations between the two countries will be back on track if the US accepts our demands and any attempt to make us scapegoat to hide its own failure is not acceptable,” he said.

The minister said Pakistan was keen to restore peace in the region, especially in Afghanistan, for which it was ready to play its due role through the platform of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Referring to a briefing by Tillerson to the US senators after concluding his visit to Pakistan, he said the top US diplomat apprised the lawmakers of Pakistan’s viewpoint, which wanted credible intelligence sharing to track down the terrorists on its soil. “We had told Tillerson that we will take action against militant outfits if we are given credible intelligence by the US as mere rhetoric of doing more is not going to work,” he said. 

To a question that he unwittingly told Tillerson that he should not entrust the frustrated military generals for framing foreign policy, he said that he said it all ‘wittingly’, adding that any policy by the defeated generals was doomed to fail, and the same will also apply in case of Pakistan.

The minister said that he had urged that the US State Department or other civilian policymaking institutions should take a greater control of the American policy instead of relying on President Trump's rejected approach to this problem.

"If America frames its policy free from the influence of these retired military generals who were defeated in Afghanistan, it will be much more successful and effective. When they make Pakistan the scapegoat, they are in fact covering their own failures in Afghanistan," he maintained.

Asif assured the senators that their concerns have been heard and the foreign policy would be devised keeping their guidelines in mind, adding that the National Security Committee (NSC) headed by the prime minister gives the final nod to any foreign policy, and this is what the government is into.

“At present, the foreign policy is discussed in the NSC meeting headed by the prime minister where both civil and military leaderships give their input and the days when foreign policy was used to be framed by a single individual  are gone,” he added.

Asif said the foreign policy of the country will be shaped on the advice of parliament, adding that any dictation from a foreign country in matters of policies will not be accepted as the interest of the country comes first and no compromise will be made on it. The minister stressed that “when the US holds Pakistan responsible, it, in fact, tries to brush its own defeat under the carpet”. He also made it clear that Pakistan was to protect its interests and accorded top priority to it.

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