ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has clearly told the United States it is not responsible for the latter’s policy failures, nor is it ready to be made a scapegoat, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told the Senate on Thursday.
Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Asif said he visited four countries of regional importance following the announcement of the revised US policy towards the region. All of the four friendly countries supported Pakistan’s stance towards the US, said the foreign minister.
“[All these] countries also had reservations about the new US policy. We also consulted Saudi Arabia on the new US policy. [All these friendly] countries advised us to hold talks with US,” Asif told the Senate.
The foreign minister said Pakistan cut off several contacts with the US following its revised policy. “The US [Secretary of State] was stopped from touring Pakistan. The parliamentary resolutions also sent a strong message to the US,” Asif pointed out.
Speaking on the Senate’s floor on Wednesday, Asif had reiterated that Pakistan would never compromise on national sovereignty and dignity. He had further said future relations with the US would be reciprocated on the basis of self-respect and equality.
He had said the country had to make a compromise following the 9/11 attacks, and today the country was having to pay a price for it. The incumbent government did not compromise on national interest as former military ruler Pervez Musharraf did and neither were orders taken [from US], he had reminded.
The foreign minister, speaking in regards to the meeting held with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had said the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and there had been no allegations, adding that both countries had expressed resolve for further cooperation for elimination of terrorism from the region.
Asif had also said it was clarified during the meeting that Pakistan would not get involved in a proxy war but would continue to play its role for peace and security in the region.
Trust deficit between Pakistan and US
There is a “huge trust deficit” between Pakistan and the US over the Afghan conflict, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had told the BBC in an interview earlier.
“There is basically one key factor which is missing in our relationship that is trust. We have a huge trust deficit. We are desperately trying, both parties Americans and Pakistanis to bridge this trust deficit.”
The foreign minister had stressed that Pakistan did not have terrorist safe havens and the US was not buying Pakistan’s narrative, neither was Pakistan buying the narrative of the US. “But we are talking. They must do some self-accountability also. Why have they lost 45% of Afghan territory in last 10-12 years.”
No terrorist safe havens in Pakistan
Asif had also said earlier that Pakistan, in the meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, made it clear that no terrorist safe havens exist on Pakistani soil.
Speaking on Geo News programme Aaj Shahzaib Khanzada Kay Sath, the minister had said that in the meeting with Tillerson, the civil and military leadership presented a detailed narrative about its stance on the country’s war against terrorism.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said on Wednesday the United States was concerned that extremist groups pose a threat to the “stability and security” of the Pakistan government.