Says ‘We are not blaming Pakistan. We acknowledge the sacrifices made by Pakistan in the war on terror’; Trump’s new approach revolved around ‘protecting American interests in the region and globally
State Department’s Spokesperson Helaena White has said US President Donald Trump’s criticism of Pakistan is part of “integrated regional approach” the Republican administration has adopted for the South Asian region focusing mainly on Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.
While speaking to a private TV news at the US Embassy about Trump’s latest controversial speech, Helaena defended the US president’s new strategy about Pakistan saying his approach was “reflective of conditions on the ground rather than based on a timeline”.
She said Pakistan and America have enjoyed “durable and strong” relations for 70 years, adding that it was wrong to suggest that Trump had blamed Pakistan for the situation in Afghanistan.
“We are not blaming Pakistan. We acknowledge the sacrifices made by Pakistan in the war on terror,” she maintained. “We have high appreciation for the country’s role [and] know it very well that the people of Pakistan are victims of terrorism like the people of America.”
Trump’s administration wants to work with Pakistan “together for peace and security of Afghanistan which will benefit the entire region”, she said. The US president’s new approach revolved around “protecting American interests” in the region and globally and that he was being honest and open about it, the spokesperson added.
When asked about the comments by Trump that terrorist sanctuaries existed on Pakistani side of the border and that the authorities did not take action against some terrorist groups, Helaena White said sanctuaries existed on both sides of the border. “We want Pakistan to take decisive action against militant groups based there that are a threat to the region.”
When the spokesperson was told that Trump’s comments have attracted massive criticism across Pakistan, she said USA was with the people of Pakistan. “Americans know terrorists are a global problem which no single country can deal with on its own. We all have to work together,” Helaena White said. “In our opinion, the whole region is affected by the situation in Afghanistan. If we can secure peace in Afghanistan, it will mean stable and prosperous Pakistan.”
She added Trump’s government encourages India and Pakistan to resolve their differences through talks to reduce their tensions.
Helaena White was told that Trump’s biased, pro-India stance has caused tensions in the whole region and many countries — like China and Russia — have seen this with scepticism. To this she said the US administration sought diplomatic consensus for all countries in the region to work together towards core counterterrorism goals. She said there was no ambiguity that America wants to protect its global interests but there are commons goals for which all countries can work together.
She agreed that Trump’s decision over troops staying in Afghanistan for an “indefinite” time was unexpected, saying America has fought war in Afghanistan for 17 years.
“This wasn’t a war of our choosing, we want no war in Afghanistan at all,” she said. “It’s our new strategy and there is no deadline involved. It all depends on the conditions for lasting security.”