Making Pakistan scapegoat not to help stabilize Afghanistan: Asif

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 24 (APP): Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja Asif
Thursday said the National Security Committee (NSC) outrightly rejected
the allegations made against Pakistan by the US president, observing that
making Pakistan a scapegoat would not help stablize Afghanistan.
Winding up debate in the Senate on the national security vis-a-vis
the new US strategy announced by President Trump for South Asia and Afghanistan and his remarks about Pakistan, he said the NSC rejected
the specific allegations and insinuations made against Pakistan.
Being its immediate neighbour, he said, Pakistan had an abiding
interest in peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The committee observed that Pakistan had to manage the blowback
of a protracted conflict in Afghanistan that resulted in deluge
of refugees, flow of drugs and arms and more recently in the shape of terrorist safe havens in eastern Afghanistan from where anti-Pakistan terrorist groups continued to operate and launch attacks inside Pakistan,
he added.
The fact, he said, remained that the complex issues and internal
dynamics inside Afghanistan posed a grave challenge not only to Pakistan
but also to the broader region and the international community.
While noting the US commitment to continue to shoulder the burden
of Afghanistan and reverse the expanding ungoverned spaces in that
country, he said the NSC observed that Pakistan had consistently
supported all international efforts for a stable and peaceful
Afghanistan and had also committed more than a billion US dollars for infrastructure and social development in that country.
Over the years, Asif said, Pakistan had worked with both the
United States and Afghanistan to promote peace through a politically negotiated outcome which, in Pakistan’s view, remained the best option
to bring stability to that war torn country. A prolonged military
campaign in Afghanistan had resulted in destruction and killing of
hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians.
He said Pakistan had also endorsed and supported all Afghan-owned
and Afghan-led initiatives for peace. It was Pakistan’s expectation that
any strategy adopted to stabilize Afghanistan would succeed to end the protracted conflict and usher in an era of peace in the country
paving way for the dignified return of millions of Afghan refugees
residing in Pakistan for which “we are willing to extend all possible cooperation.”
“More specifically, we would like to see effective and immediate
US military efforts to eliminate sanctuaries harbouring terrorists and miscreants on the Afghan soil including those responsible for fomenting terror in Pakistan.”
The Afghan war, he said, could not be fought in Pakistan.
On its own part, the minister said, Pakistan had taken
indiscriminate actions against all terrorist networks and sacrificed
tens of thousands of troops and civilians in that fight. The
demonstrated security improvement inside Pakistan would not have been possible without eliminating all terrorist hideouts.
Moreover, successful cooperation with the US in the past against
the common enemy, terrorism, reflected Pakistan’s unflinching commitment
to eliminate this menace, he added.
The committee stressed that instead of any financial or material
assistance, there should be understanding and recognition of Pakistan’s efforts, contributions and sacrifices of thousands of Pakistanis and over
120 billion US dollars of economic losses, he said.
Asif said, “We consider the lives of the citizens of other
countries as sacrosanct as those of our own and, therefore, Pakistan
is committed to not allowing its soil to be used for violence against
any other country. We expect the same from our neighbours.
“The claims of billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan are also
misleading to the extent that the reimbursements to Pakistan since 2001
only account for part of the cost of ground facilities and air corridors used by the United States for its operations in Afghanistan, rather than
any financial aid or assistance.”
He said Pakistan’s effective counter-terrorism operations had
clearly proved that tide of terrorism could be reversed and “we are
willing to share our experience with both the US and Afghanistan.”
It would require working together and focusing on core issues
of eliminating safe havens inside Afghanistan, border management, return
of refugees and reinvigorating the peace process for a political
settlement in Afghanistan, he added.
The NSC, he said, stressed that India could not be a net security
provider in the South Asia region when it had conflictual relationships
with all its neighbours and was pursuing a policy of destabilizing
Pakistan from the east and the west.
The committee, he said, expressed deep concern at Indian policies
inimical to peace in the region, including interference in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries and using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. It condemned state-inflicted repression on the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated Pakistan’s continued diplomatic, political and moral support for their struggle for
self-determination.
The committee, he said, reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to protect its
sovereignty and territorial integrity. It underscored that as a
responsible nuclear weapon state, Pakistan had in place a robust and credible command and control system which had been universally
recognized and appreciated.
Pakistan, the minister, would continue to extend all possible
cooperation to the international community for achieving the common objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the broader
region.