Islamabad -  Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir said on Tuesday that Pakistan has suspended military and intelligence cooperation with the United States in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to freeze security assistance to Islamabad.

Addressing a pubic talk entitled “Contours of Security Environment in Pakistan” organied here at Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), Khurram Dastgir said that it is high time for Pakistan to have “ruthlessly candid dialogue” with United States with everything on the table.

The minister said that US, in spite of spending billions of dollars and getting its soldiers killed, could not win the Afghan war as it has only managed to control 40 percent of Afghanistan during the last 15 years. “America needs to deal with that ungoverned areas before it points finger towards Pakistan’s role in Afghan peace process,” he added.

“US military aid suspension to Pakistan has no importance. At the same time, strategic dialogue between the two countries has also faced suspension for last two years. High-level dialogues with US would not work until resumption and consistency in working level dialogues,” he said.

Dastgir said that US allegations and illogical demands have affected seriously the efforts made by Pakistan to ensure peace in the region as well as the world. He said that sacrifices of Pakistan in war against terrorism were above board and it would not allow anyone to make it a scapegoat and bring Afghan war on its soil.

He said that Pakistan has been facing challenges where it has been confronting with external threat on eastern border with India and facing internal threat due to terrorism.

The minister said that the successful conduct of operation with Zarb-e-Azb and on-going Radd-ul-Fassad have made Pakistan and region a citadel of peace.

Replying to a question, he said that presence of Afghan refugees in large number in Pakistan was also another cause of internal instability. The decision of extension for a month’s stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan has been taken by the Cabinet, he added.

The minister said a sustainable peace in Afghanistan was part of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Dastgir also said that the US is busy in a blame game against Pakistan rather than providing it with assistance to secure the Pak-Afghan border.

Answering a question during the seminar, the defence minister said that Pakistan took the right steps by blocking Nato supplies to Afghanistan in the aftermath of 2011 attack at Salala check post. But Pakistan is not taking the same route after Trump’s recent tirade as it is a “leverage we want to use at the appropriate time”, he clarified.

Answering another question, Dastgir said that Pakistan and China were partners and all-weather friends. Multi-billion dollars project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would bring development and prosperity, not only in Pakistan but also in the region, he said.

“CPEC is the first-ever project in history of Pak-China relationship that will actually bring economic success to region,” he added.

Regarding Indian hostile attitude, he said: “Pakistan desires solution of all outstanding issues with India but its aggression along the Line of Control (LoC) and working boundary was a matter of concern.”

He said that the number of Indian provocations against Pakistan were more than 1,300 during year 2016.

“Justice was not just required for Mumbai attacks but it was also imperative for victims of Samjotha Express,” the minister reminded.

He said that US deemed India as its strategic partner in region, and it has been trying to convince Pakistan not to see India as a threat while Pakistan clearly sees India as a threat to its peace and stability.

Dastgir said that the bilateral relations with regional countries like Russia and Iran were improving. “Pak-Russia conducted joint military exercises. Visit of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to Tehran is proving to be step forward in strengthening mutual relationship with regional countries,” he said.

In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood said that world should not ignore Pakistan’s sacrifices in war against terrorism. Pakistan has been a frontline state in this war and Pakistanis have bought this peace with their blood, he said.

He said that Pakistan’s geographical position makes it vulnerable to many external threats but our Armed Forces know how to defend their motherland. The event was attended by vast number of people from all walks of life including diplomats, journalists and students from different universities.