Stop blaming Islamabad for existence of Haqqani Network, says Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has asked the international community to stop blaming Islamabad for the existence of the Haqqani Network and other alleged militant outfits, reminding them that those ‘terrorists’ were considered the ‘darlings’ of the White House up until a few decades ago.
Asif, in reply to a question at the Asia Society in New York, said, ““Don’t blame us for the Haqqanis [the Haqqani Network] and don’t blame us for the Hafiz Saeeds [referring to the head of banned Jamaatud Dawa].”
“These were the people who were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back. They were being dined and wined in the White House and now you say ‘go to hell Pakistanis because you are nurturing these people’,” he added.
“It is very easy to say Pakistan is floating the Haqqanis and Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. They are liabilities. I accept that they are liabilities, but give us time to get rid of them because we don’t have the assets to match these liabilities and you are increasing them [our liabilities] further.”
He said, “Pakistan was ready to work with the United States for effective management of the Afghan border to stop terrorist infiltration and to facilitate a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan,” while stressing that there was no military solution to the festering conflict in that country, The Express Tribune reports.
“Scapegoating Pakistan for all the Afghan ills is neither fair nor accurate. This will only help forces that we are trying to fight collectively.”
Pakistan, he said, had in the past done all it could to facilitate a political settlement in Afghanistan, making sure that Pakistani soil was not used against any country.
The minister also said there were obviously clear limits to what Pakistan could do, in relation with Afghanistan.
“We cannot take responsibility for Afghanistan’s peace and security and be asked to achieve what the combined strength of some of the most powerful and richest countries could not accomplish,” he said.
“Effective border management frankly is the key. More needs to be done on the Afghan side of the border where terrorist elements are finding easy safe havens.”
“We are keen to work with the U.S. in effectively managing the Afghan border and in facilitating a peace process to the extent we can,” Asif said, adding, “the U.S. remains our critical partner and there are strong and enduring bases for this partnership to continue in the future.”
He added, “Both Pakistan and the U.S. have strong convergences in fighting terrorism and working together to stop the spread of violent extremism espoused by the ISIS.”
“Similarly, peace and stability in Afghanistan is in our mutual interest, and the benefits accruing from a stable and secure region benefit the U.S. as much as it benefits us.”
“In our view, Pakistan and the U.S. have always benefitted when they work together. We are grateful for the U.S. support to Pakistan in a broad range of areas,” he added.
In his opening remarks, the foreign minister also covered Pakistan’s relations with India, the Kashmir dispute, counter-terrorism measures and the country’s economic progress.