ISTANBUL : Pakistan cannot be blamed for the failure of other actors in Afghanistan, and it has alone done more than any other countries combined in the fight against terrorism, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said.
In an exclusive interview with Turkish Daily Sabah, Abbasi said: “Pakistan will not be made a scapegoat for the failures of others in Afghanistan.” The Pakistani prime minister criticised U.S. President Donald Trump for accusing Pakistan of providing a safe haven to terrorists and not doing much in the fight against extremists.
Recalling Trump’s statements on Pakistan in late August that “the U.S. can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations,” Abbasi said that Islamabad’s efforts in the fight against terrorism is unquestionable. “Our role, sincerity and intentions for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan are beyond question,” he said.
In response to Trump’s allegations that Pakistan has been paid by the U.S. in “billions and billions of dollars,” but the country has not been effectively fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, Abbasi said: “In the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region, the U.S., ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] and NATO forces in Afghanistan have not suffered as many casualties combined as Pakistan has suffered alone.
Through successful operations, Pakistan has successfully eliminated terrorists in areas along its border with Afghanistan. We have done enough on our part, we demand from the U.S. and other players to do more. Abbasi has also levied harsh criticism at Washington’s new Afghanistan strategy that was announced in the Trump era.
“We have shown our reservations over the new U.S. strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia,” he said, adding: “The new strategy is in fact a reiteration of the old, failed strategy. Pakistan cannot endorse any strategy that will prolong and intensify the suffering of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and other regional countries.”
Abbasi touched on one of the longest lasting disputes in the world, the Kashmir dispute. The Jammu and Kashmir crisis is among the longest unsolved issues on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Contending that Kashmiris are punished for demanding self-determination, Abbasi said: “Occupied Jammu and Kashmir remains one of the most militarized zones in the world, with more than 700,000 Indian security forces. Not only are they armed to the teeth, they also come armed with repressive laws that grant them impunity.”
Calling the Indian presence in the region “illegal and brutal,” he said that the people there still resist the “Indian occupation” and make sacrifices. Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Expressing his hope that the world will find a way to resolve the dispute as soon as possible, Abbasi said: “It is imperative for the international community to act immediately and decisively to stop the tragedy unfolding in occupied Kashmir. We hope the world would play its rightful role in ensuring a just, peaceful and durable solution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.”
He pointed to a durable and peaceful solution in Kashmir for a more stable South Asia. “This is indispensable both for justice and for durable peace and stability in South Asia. For its part, Pakistan is ready for peaceful, negotiated resolution of all outstanding issues with India, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. We believe a fair and lasting solution of the Kashmir issue is essential for durable peace and stability in South Asia” he said.