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February 9, 2018

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US pushed Pakistan into Afghan war, says Bilawal

US pushed Pakistan into Afghan war, says Bilawal

Ag Agencies

KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said terrorism adversely impacted Pakistan more than the United States. In a strong-worded response to a query by David Asman in a news programme of an American TV, Bilawal said terrorists killed thousands of Pakistanis in several terrorist incidents, adding it is the Pakistanis who suffered massive losses more than that suffered by the Americans.

Pakistan has surmounted the menace of terrorism by 75 percent, Bilawal said adding, “In Afghanistan, 75 percent of the provinces, and 45 percent of the country is not in the control of Afghan government.”

The PPP chairman raised the question as to how Pakistan alone could be expected to curb terrorism if Nato forces, the allied forces and Afghan government had failed to defeat terrorism. Pakistan seeks eradication of terrorism from its own soil and Afghanistan, he underscored.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari criticised a tweet sent out by US President Donald Trump, saying it was ‘deeply hurtful to the people of Pakistan.’ Trump, in January, had criticized the US for providing $33 billion in aid to Pakistan over the course of the past 15 years. “They have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump wrote in the tweet. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Pakistan was pushed into the Afghan war by US, he said, adding Pakistan, not the US, suffered the most in the anti-terror war. He said more Pakistanis lost their lives than Americans in the terror war.

“President Trump’s tweet, while I understand it reflects some of the emotions of the American people, it was deeply hurtful to the people of Pakistan, particularly those like myself who have lost loved ones in this fight against extremism,” Bilawal told FOX News. “I feel, unfortunately, I don’t think the president intended to do so, but this tweet sends the wrong message.”

Relations between Pakistan and the US had strained after the former alleged that Pakistan had been supporting the Haqqani militant network, an Afghan insurgent group. Bilawal also criticised the US for its past alleged support of the Taliban during the war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan in the 1980s.

“The US government supported the Taliban and the Mujahideen in the Iran war,” Bilawal said. “They forced the Pakistani state and the government to support these forces. My mother warned the American president, George H. W. Bush, but I don’t want to fight about the past. I want to look forward.”

Bilawal proposed a mutually-acceptable verification mechanism to end the blame game between Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to a statement issued by the party.

Addressing scholars and researchers at the Woodrow Wilson think tank in Washington, Bilawal said such a “credible” and “doable” mechanism was a way forward to address concerns about militants crossing borders with impunity that has disrupted peace in the region and tensed relations between the two neighbours.

“Extremists and militants of any persuasion who seek to advance their security and foreign policy agendas are a threat to peace and security and must not be allowed a foothold anywhere,” he said.

The PPP chief stressed that the Haqqani network must be dismantled and disarmed, but this could only be done by concerted and coordinated action by both Pakistan and Afghanistan based on a credible and verifiable mechanism, and not by resorting to blame game.

Among a number of topics, Bilawal spoke about the state of democracy and human rights, mysterious disappearances, forthcoming general elections in the country, reforms in tribal areas, need for economic revival, and fighting militancy in a holistic manner. The use of religion as a weapon of war in Afghanistan and turning a blind eye to the emergence of non-state actors in the name of religion was a grave strategic mistake, he said.

Containing the consequences of disastrous policies of the past called for political will and sincerity of purpose which can come only by making a clean admission of the blunders made, Bilawal said.

About US President Donald Trump’s tweets, he said these generated heat instead of throwing light on serious foreign policy issues. Important foreign policy issues could not be addressed through tweets, he remarked. The interactive session at the Woodrow Wilson institute was attended by former ambassadors, ex-State Department officers, researchers and scholars of peace and security issues in the South Asian region. Party spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar and former senator Akbar Khwaja were also present.

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