Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, speaking about the new United States policy in Afghanistan, told journalists at the Pakistan Embassy on Thursday that Islamabad is “genuinely concerned” about New Delhi’s role in the plan.
Asif said that the Pak-US bilateral relationship had taken a new turn after the announcement of Washington’s South Asia strategy.
“If on one hand, the US has its concerns about the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan seeks recognition of its legitimate security concerns in the region. We are genuinely concerned with respect to the role accorded in the strategy to India in general and its efforts, geared towards destabilisation in Balochistan, in particular.”
While announcing his strategy for the region, Trump had said the US appreciates India’s important contributions to Afghan stability. But he also lamented that India “makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States.” He had said he wanted India to provide more economic assistance and development to Afghanistan.
Asif said dividends of peace in the region would be elusive unless there is stability in Afghanistan. To achieve that goal both the US and Pakistan need to work closely, he stressed.
“On our part, we have completely wiped out all the hideouts used by terrorists and anti-state elements. However, this is an ongoing process with continuing intelligence-based operations by law enforcement agencies across the country,” he added.
“We have offered candid cooperation to Afghanistan during the recent visit of Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa and the foreign secretary to Kabul where they had successful and productive meetings with [Afghan] President Ashraf Ghani, the CEO Abdullah Abdullah and others in the Afghan hierarchy,” he said.
Pakistan is extremely concerned about safe havens of terrorists which are mostly operating from ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan, which are more than 40 per cent of the total area of the country, he claimed.
The minister claimed that a number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan in recent months had been traced back to elements operating from bases in Afghanistan.
“I would like to reiterate that Pakistan will continue to play a positive role in bringing peace to the region through measures agreed upon by all relevant stakeholders,” he said. Asif termed his “cordial and useful” meeting with Tillerson an “important interaction”.
“My visit is essentially in follow-up to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s meeting with Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of UNGA on September 19, 2017.”
“We want to build a relationship founded on mutual respect. We firmly believe that through consistent, structured and constructive engagement, at political and diplomatic levels, both the countries can continue to work together for the common goal of peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia.—APP