ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif said on Thursday that the world was in a whirlpool and Pakistan needed to readjust its position without any delay.

“We have no time. Pakistan needs to change its direction swiftly. We are undergoing a seismic shift,” he told a news conference on the conclusion of a three-day envoys’ conference here.

Asif’s comments come after US President Donald Trump on August 20 warned that Washington will “no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations”.

“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan,” Trump said, and issued a veiled threat: “It has much to lose by continuing to harbour criminals and terrorists.”

Trump’s statement angered Pakistan as the civil and military leadership reminded him of the country’s enormous sacrifices in the war on terror.

Later, US Ambassador David Hale met National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua to clarify the US position. He maintained that Trump did not blame Pakistan for failure in Afghanistan.

Although the envoys’ conference is a regular feature, Trump’s speech and the mention of some terror outfits - allegedly operating inside Pakistan - at the BRICS summit in Xiamen, multiplied its importance.

BRICS is an organisation for cooperation among world’s five emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Pakistani envoys in various countries including the United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Afghanistan, Iran, and India participated in the conference which started on Sept 5. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the final session on Thursday.

Amid the envoys’ meeting, Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to build cooperation and meet on the sidelines of UN General Assembly. Foreign Minister Asif spoke to Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani over phone the other day to discuss bilateral issues.

At the news conference, along with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Asif referred to the ‘unprecedented’ geopolitical changes taking place in the world.

“Maybe these changes did not even witness after the Second World War. New alignments have been made, strategic policies are dictating nations’ interests,” he said.

“We have to quickly adjust our direction. We need to review these situations,” he held.

Asif said Pakistan’s ambassador to US Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry gave a detailed briefing at the envoys’ conference on Trump’s statement and his new South Asia policy.

“We now better understand the different dimensions of the problem. Washington policy is not new. It has a 50-60 years history which is gradually unfolding. Pakistan has only incurred losses and haven’t gained much in the war on terror,” he contended.

The foreign minister warned that Pakistan did not have much time. “The developing regional situation does not give us too much time. The matter is urgent. There is a difference between our and world’s thinking,” he said.

Asif said that Pakistan had to determine a new but ‘correct direction’ in the backdrop of emerging alliances.

The minister said that a new foreign policy narrative had been evolved and “this would be finalised after input by the National Security Committee and the Parliament.”

He said that the new narrative was aimed at bridging the gap in the perception of Pakistan and some members of the international community on the issue of fighting terrorism.

Asif said Pakistan was the only country winning the war against terrorism. He said Karachi, Waziristan, Khyber, and Bajaur were peaceful and the situation was constantly improving.

He said the envoys had in-depth discussions on the new policy of the US for South Asia and Pakistan’s relations with neighbouring countries especially India.

“Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Sohail Mehmood also briefed the conference about Pakistan-India relations,” he added.

The minister said Pakistan will raise the Kashmir issue at all forums and expose India’s brutalities in the held territory. “We will highlight the Kashmir issue at the UNGA,” he said.

He said China had not allowed India to include many controversial points in the BRICS declaration. “China is our friend. I will meet the Chinese counterpart and discuss the regional situation,” he said.

Asif, later in the day, flew to Beijing to discuss the foreign policy and the future strategy. He will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi today (Sept 8) and is expected to exchange views on Trump’s speech.

The foreign minister will also visit Russia, Iran, and Turkey before joining Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for the UNGA session.

To a question, Asif said: “The outfits named in the BRICS declaration have already been banned by Pakistan. We have unanimity of views with China on the anti-terror war.”

Asif said Pakistan had good ties with Saudi Arabia and Iran and will further improve the relations in the future. “(Former prime minister) Nawaz Sharif tried to improve ties between these two nations (Saudi Arabia and Iran) but the efforts did not bring desired results,” he remarked.

About his telephonic talks with the Afghan counterpart, he said: “We had positive discussion. We want friendly ties with Afghanistan but our national interest is always the top priority,” he said.

On the war of words between Pakistan’s ambassador to US Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry and just-retired diplomat Abdul Basit, the minister said: “The former high commissioner (to India) has personal grievances. Abdul Basit is not part of any government department now,” he remarked.

Asked to comment on Rohingya Muslims’ plight in Myanmar, the foreign minister said that the issue will be discussed during the forthcoming conference of Organization of the Islamic Cooperation to be attended by President Mamnoon Hussain.

Earlier, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the concluding session of the envoys’ conference in which the recommendations put forward by the participants were finalised.

Addressing the participants, Abbasi reiterated there was no military solution to Afghanistan issue. “Trump’s new Afghan policy will fail. We will not allow bringing the war into Pakistan,” he said. The premier stressed India must be stopped from using Afghan soil against Pakistan.

Besides others, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir and NSA Nasser Khan Janjua also attended the conference.