US decision on Pakistan belies two-way conversations on finding common ground: Ambassador

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (APP):“Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry in his several interviews to foreign media castigated US decision to suspend security aid, saying it runs counter to the conversations between the top leadership for finding common ground to work together in fighting global terrorism.
The Trump administration early this month announced to withhold security assistance to Pakistan that largely included reimbursement for expenses incurred by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism, accusing Islamabad of not being fully cooperative in dealing with terrorist groups.
Pakistan has already rejected these allegations and said its indiscriminate action against extremist groups has reversed the tide of terrorism and forced terrorists to flee the country and take refuge in Afghanistan, from where they are plotting attacks on Pakistan.
In his interviews to international media, including BBC, CNN international, Voice of America and Fox News, the Ambassador said that Pakistan was disappointed and surprised over US action against its long-time ally, which suffered most in the anti-terror war that killed thousands of innocent people and shattered its economy.
“Pakistanis are surprised because the conversations we had with the US leadership when the two US Secretaries visited Pakistan were different, like in words of Secretary (James) Mattis, we were searching for a common ground to work together,” the Ambassador said.
Referring to President Trump’s tweet that preceded the US decision, the ambassador said that the language used was opposite to what contribution and sacrifices Pakistan has made in fighting terrorism, both with the help of the US and also on its own.
Replying a question, he said that usually there is no response to the tweets but, since it was coming from the highest level of the US decision-making, Islamabad paid full attention to it, recognizing that it might end up in a policy decision.
“We did not act in a tit-for-tat manner. We had an institutional response which was issued after the meeting of the National Security Committee,” he said referring to the consultation that was chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi soon after President Trump’s New Year tweet.
Ambassador Chaudhry said there was a question on a role of aid and Pakistan clearly indicated that it does not want aid. “We also questioned the figure of $33 dollars. Nearly half of it is the reimbursement of the expenditure incurred by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.”
When asked why US does not believe Pakistan, the Ambassador cited significant success achieved against terrorists in the past two years that had salutary effect on the country’s economy which was long held hostage by the incidents of terrorism.
To the contrary, he said the situation in Afghanistan has unfortunately deteriorated and almost 43 percent area is not under the control of the Afghan government. “There are ungoverned spaces which attracts terrorist elements.”
In the backdrop of the worsening security, the ambassador said it was easy to scapegoat Pakistan for failures in Afghanistan. He underscored that the cooperation between Islamabad and Kabul was needed to stabilize situation in Afghanistan.
“The way forward is, if both Pakistan and Afghanistan intend to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, then it’s just the question of reconciling the methodologies and working together for a common goal, he concluded.
In his interview to Robyn Curnow of ‘Connect the World’ program on CNN International, Ambassador Chaudhry stated that Pakistan values its relationship with the US and wants to build that relationship because there is a lot of work to be done in Afghanistan.
For the work that needs to be done, the Ambassador said both Pakistan and the US must work together by finding a common ground. ‘President Trump’s tweet is incomprehensible and disappointing because there is a genuine desire on behalf of Pakistan to work with the US in order to defeat the menace of terrorism.”