Islamabad – It has been reported that Pakistan’s top civilian and military leadership has strongly rejected US President Donald Trump’s allegations of insincerity and duplicity in the fight against terrorism and set conditions for future counterterrorism cooperation with Washington and Kabul, specifically the removal of hideouts in eastern Afghanistan.
It said the government’s formal and comprehensive response to the Trump administration’s policy on Afghanistan and South Asia came after a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), which was chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and attended by ministers for defence, foreign affairs, finance, and interior, the national security adviser, services chiefs and heads of intelligence agencies and military operations.
The government had earlier given a preliminary response to the policy after a meeting of the federal cabinet. The army too had expressed its views through a statement after a meeting between Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa and US Ambassador David Hale on Wednesday.
The statement issued after the NSC meeting was a detailed rejoinder to all elements of concern in the new US policy and President Trump’s speech — the allegations about sanctuaries, claims about taking billions and billions of dollars in aid from Washington, fears about nuclear security, and the formalisation of India’s role in Afghanistan.
The bottom line is that Pakistan remains committed to international efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan, but it also wants its concerns to be addressed, including the main issue of sanctuaries on Afghan soil.
Counterterrorism cooperation with the US and Afghanistan, the NSC said, was contingent upon: “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.”
Separately, it said: “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 United States, it may be recalled, had already signalled its willingness to address the issue of removal of safe havens in Afghanistan from where terrorists have been launching attacks in Pakistan. In the first statement issued by the State Department on behalf of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after President Trump’s speech, it had been said that it was “vital to US interests that Afghanistan and Pakistan prevent terrorist sanctuaries”. – firstname.lastname@example.org