WASHINGTON -  Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said Tuesday that Pakistan wanted to build ties with the US on mutual trust and respect, but efforts to coerce Pakistan would be counterproductive.

Iqbal stated this during an interview to CNN’s Hannah Vaughan Jones on Tuesday night, adding that unilateral operations on Pakistan’s territory would harm the bilateral ties.

“Any effort to try to bully or coerce Pakistan will be counterproductive,” the minister said, adding that threatening Islamabad would be taken as a detrimental move on the part of the US. He clarified that any attack or conspiracy against Pakistan will end in the same.

He said, “Any unilateral US action in Pakistan would be a red line for Pakistan … We want to have [a] friendship which is based on mutual trust and respect.”

Talking about US aid, the interior minister said that Pakistan desired trade ties with the ally instead of aid. Whatever monetary aid the US had offered was nothing extraordinary.

“Pakistan is ready to work for peace in collaboration with world powers,” he said, and reiterated that the Afghanistan issue could only be resolved through political negotiations. He further said that the US wanted to put the burden of its failure on the US.

“To have the final outcome in Afghanistan, to have peace and stability, we need to follow a comprehensive approach,” he said.

“We need to have [a] military option but also a political option … Both Afghanistan and Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns and interests must be incorporated in the approach that we follow in that region (South Asia).”

Iqbal underlined that both countries –US and Pakistan – needed to work together for establishing peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan has sacrificed over 60,000 lives and its economy suffered losses of $25 billion during the war on terror.  Iqbal reiterated that the people of Pakistan “are dignified”.

Any attack on or conspiracy against Pakistan’s interests, however, will be responded accordingly, Iqbal warned. The Washington needs to change the way it looks at South Asia, especially Afghanistan, he said.

Answering a question about Pakistan, US relations, he said that US needs to see these relations from its own independent perspective and not through prism of India.

The interior minister said that no country in the world had rendered as much sacrifices and made contributions more than Pakistan in the fight against terrorism in the recent past.

Nonetheless, Pakistan has fought and will keep waging the war against terrorism not for the US or its financial assistance but for the safety and security of Pakistanis. He said, “We are the first country that faces the cost of instability and we are the first country that gets dividend of peace in Afghanistan.”

BLAMING PAKISTAN FOR FAILURE IN AFGHAN UNFAIR: ENVOY

Blaming Pakistan for strategy failure in Afghanistan is unfair, said Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, and called for a closer cooperation between Islamabad and Washington to help restore peace and stability in the war-torn country.

Delivering a lecture on the current state of Pakistan-US relations at the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, the ambassador emphasised the significance of strong ties between Pakistan and the United States.

He expressed the hope that both countries would be able to work together in future to achieve common objectives such as peace in Afghanistan.

“Each time Pakistan and the US had worked together, they had been able to benefit both countries,” he added. Ambassador Chaudhry said that the recent violence in Afghanistan and continued erosion of territorial hold indicated that the situation in the country was rapidly deteriorating.

He reiterated Pakistan’s strong desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan. He said in such circumstances, it was unfair to blame Pakistan for strategies that did not work well in Afghanistan.

Instead, he believed that Pakistan and the US must set aside their differences and continue to encourage the Afghan government and the militants towards political reconciliation.

“Relying solely on military strategy would never bring lasting peace to Afghanistan.”

The Ambassador categorically stated that any militant safe havens had been eliminated from Pakistan due to highly successful military operations in the tribal region conducted in the last three years which have forced to the militants to flee and take refuge across the border in Afghanistan.

He said that Pakistan has made a remarkable sacrifice in blood and treasure in the fight against terrorism. He added that relations between Pakistan and the US had always been broad-based and multifaceted.

Citing examples of cooperation in diverse areas such as trade, agriculture, energy, water, health and education, Ambassador Aizaz said that Pakistan has much to gain by working with the US and vice versa. However, he added that relations between the two countries must be based on mutual trust and mutual respect.

He observed that even when relations between both governments were under stress, people to people contacts and private sector engagements remained strong and robust.

During the Q&A session, the Ambassador responded to queries related to Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts, its relations with Afghanistan, Iran, India as well as the situation in South Asia.

To contextualise his lecture, the Ambassador shared an overview of the rapidly evolving geo-strategic and socio-economic situation that presented new challenges for which every country needs to be prepared.

Participants at the talk included faculty and students of USC and members of the Pakistani American community. Abdul Jabbar Memon, Consul General of Pakistan, Los Angeles also attended the event.

 


 

Agencies