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January 5, 2018

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US cheats us, says Asif

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Thursday said the United States cheats its friends as he expressed the resolve that the nation would give a unanimous response to any aggression. He said that Pakistan would revisit its relations with the US.

Khawaja Asif said that the US was not recognising Pakistan’s sacrifices given in the war against terrorism. “The Jawans, and high ranking officers in the Pakistan armed forces had sacrificed their lives in fighting the war against terror," he said while talking to a private news channel. In every difficult time, the Americans left Pakistan in the lurch, he said, adding the United States had got benefits in the Afghan war, while Pakistan had to face immense trouble and destruction.

He said Pakistan was going to add 10,000MW electricity to the national grid due to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Khawaja Asif said Pakistan held good relations with China besides having people-to-people contacts.

To a question, he said China, Turkey and Russia besides other countries had acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in the war against terrorism. Diplomatically, Pakistan was not an isolated country, he said. Rather it had good relations with many countries including China, Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Replying to a question, he said Pakistan had destroyed all the networks of terrorists and restored peace in Swat, tribal areas and other parts of the country. Meanwhile, the government and the opposition were Thursday on the same page in a meeting of Parliamentary Committee on National Security pledging that no compromise would be made on national dignity and honour in the wake of US threats.

Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq chaired the committee meeting. The parliamentary leaders rejected the baseless US allegations against Pakistan saying the country had the capability to face any situation and there would be no compromise on national security.

It was agreed that a committee meeting would be convened next week in which the top military leadership will also be invited. Sadiq told newsmen after the meeting that all the political parties were united on the issue of national security andthe US without compromising national dignity and honour.

“A balanced response maintaining the country's dignity is needed while engaging with the US,” he said. Sadiq said the most important thing in the committee meeting was the unity of all political parties on the issue.

“The committee has decided to meet again next week, likely on January 11 or 12, and be briefed by members of defence institutions,” he said, adding, “Everyone wanted a follow-up meeting to chalk out a plan to counter any eventuality.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif briefed the committee on the decisions of the cabinet and National Security Committee. He said the civilian and military leaders were on the same page on the statement of President Trump. He said Washington had ignored facts on Pakistan.

He said the US should not blame Pakistan for its failure in Afghanistan, as the latter will not compromise on its dignity and honour. He told the parliamentary committee that Pakistan could not fight the Afghan war on its soil.

“The US claims of giving $33 billion in aid is baseless,” he said, adding, “Pakistan’s security forces and people have given huge sacrifices in the war on terrorism”. He told the committee that Pakistan will not make any compromise on its dignity and honour and will make a decision keeping national and security interest supreme.

“We want to resolve the issue through dialogue but our tolerance should not be taken as our weakness,” he told the committee. Sources said the foreign minister told the parliamentary committee in-camera that President Trump was speaking the language of Indians.

According to sources, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah proposed convening another meeting of the parliamentary committee with briefings from the top senior military leadership as well as adviser to the prime minister on finance.

Sources said the government and opposition members had rejected a proposal for convening a joint sitting of both the houses of Parliament and instead decided that focus should be on formulating Pakistan’s narrative on the US threats.

Defense Minister Khurram Dastagir said the question was will the US create a situation that will harm Pakistan. “We are ready for this, but we still want to engage the US. We need to have a holistic review of the entire situation. We are conducting a complete analysis and coolly formulating our response,” he said, adding, “There should not be any doubts when it comes to the defence of Pakistan.”

Opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah said all the political parties were united on the matter of national security and there will be no compromise in this regard. Deputy parliamentary leader of PTI Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the whole country was united on the issue of national security.

“The ministers and adviser on national security have given a briefing to the committee. We have to review our relations with the US after evaluating their policy towards Pakistan,” he said.

He said there was need to examine the statement of President Trump in a larger prospective and formulation of policy after examining the whole situation. He said some friendly countries had expressed their solidarity with Pakistan and it was time that the Foreign Office should contact the other countries too.

To a question, he said the statement of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was unsuitable. PPP Parliamentarians Senator Sherry Rehman told newsmen that time had come to review Pakistan’s policy towards the US.

She said all political parties should keep national security above politics. “The entire leadership, be it the civilians or military, should be on the same page to unite nation on the issue of national security. The government of the day must take lead in this regard,” she said.

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said there was no threat of the US attack on Pakistan. “Pakistan is not a banana state and there’s no need to take emotional decisions,” he said.

- Web Desk/Agencies

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