Peanuts, not billions of dollars, Nisar assails Trump’s claims

Staff Reporter
Islamabad
Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday lambasted the new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia announced by US President Donald Trump, saying Pakistan was not responsible for the failure of US and its allies in Afghanistan. Nisar also ridiculed Trump’s claim that the US has paid “billions and billions of dollars” to Pakistan and called on the government to issue the record of the past 20 years to “expose” American claims.“It’s not billions of dollars, it’s peanuts,” the former interior minister said while addressing the National Assembly. Nisar said that Coalition Support Fund payments from the US were for services rendered by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism. He also criticised the US for dragging its feet in making payments from the military fund, adding: “If our bill [for military services] is $500 million, they [US] sit on it for months […] and end up giving us $200 million.” “They have ruined our roads, our airspace and our country, but are not ready to pay for the expenses.”“Put your money where your mouth is,” Nisar railed, adding that the US has been able to point fingers because Pakistan did not keep a proper record of American assistance. Nisar said that while he was the interior minister, he had called for an “international audit” of US claims that it had paid Pakistan $240 million over five years.But that “very democratic country [US] did not respond to the audit proposal, and the matters are still the same,” claimed Nisar. Peace in Afghanistan is more in the interest of Pakistan than of the US, but “no one should expect one-sided cooperation from Pakistan”, he added.Agreeing with Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah, he said that a joint session of the parliament should have been called to discuss the response to the US policy instead of a National Assembly session. A message conveyed from a united parliament would be positive, he added. Nisar said that all the institutions should be united and speak the same language in responding to the new US policy, adding that a statement based on arguments should be prepared in which the allegations of terrorist networks and inordinate US aid are addressed. He suggested that an international forum could be chosen where “we point out the terror networks existing there [Afghanistan] and you [point to the networks] here”, following which a procedure could be chalked out to determine whether terrorist networks exist in Afghanistan or Pakistan.Additionally, he said, an audit of US aid received in the last 10 years should be conducted to determine how much money was spent in Pakistan, and “how much they gave with one hand and how much went back [with] the other”. The ex-minister said that it was a positive step that the visit of US Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells was rescheduled. The diplomat should visit, he said, “but we should first say we want to wipe the slate clean regarding the allegations levelled against us”. He said that a way forward should be cleared by the Foreign Ministry: “You [US] give us the evidence, we will clear [the matter]”, he said, adding that the biggest destabilising factor in Afghanistan is the US plan to impose a “totally irrelevant country”, India, on Afghanistan.

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