WASHINGTON - Pakistan is the one country in the region that has done the most against terrorism, and no country can accuse Pakistan of not doing enough against terrorism and extremism, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Pakistan's outgoing ambassador to the US, told VOA.

“Al-Qaeda, if you don’t hear about it today, it is because Pakistan and the US were cooperating. Al-Qaeda is the organization that caused 9/11, and therefore we think that no country can tell us that Pakistan has not done enough. In fact, Pakistan has done the most,” Chaudhry said.

Chaudhry said the allegations that there were safe havens in Pakistan or that the leadership of the Afghan Taliban was based there were myths. “It is a myth to say that there are any Shuras in Pakistan, Karachi Shura, Quetta Shura and all these things,” Chaudhry said. “We’ve said time and again that there are no safe havens in Pakistan. Forty-four percent of the territory of Afghanistan is available, according to US reports, and 70 percent, according to a BBC report, is available to militants of that huge country.”

“Pakistan is squeezing space on Haqqanis and the Taliban. Our message to them is very clear, 'you’re Afghans and you should give up violence and go to Afghanistan to join the political mainstream’,” Chaudhry said. “But to hold Pakistan responsible for a lack of success in Afghanistan is not a fair treatment,” he added.

Chaudhry asserted that following several military operations, the Fata region has been cleared of militants. “Violence and terrorism under any pretext is not acceptable. That’s where our military forces moved into the tribal areas, especially North Waziristan where these people had created hideouts, safe havens, IED [improvised explosive devices] factories, training camps and whatever else, and two, three years later, we were able to clean up the whole place and secure every inch of that territory,” he said.

Despite the government’s claim, voices raised by a recent movement initiated by ethnic Pashtuns belonging to the tribal belt tells a different story. Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement, or PTM, charges there is no peace in the volatile tribal region.

Chaudhry downplayed those accusations and seemed to suggest the PTM movement has been hijacked by outsiders. “I think people are exaggerating because they have their own axe to grind, otherwise there are talks going on with them [PTM] by the authorities and the matter is also in the courts,” he said.

“Within Pakistan, Pashtuns are very committed Pakistanis, and they have made enormous contributions to the people of Pakistan,” he added.

Responding to a question, Chaudhry said Hafiz Saeed’s case is legal and India has failed to present evidence against him. “We tried several times in 2012, when I think the first judicial commission went, but they could not interrogate the prosecution witnesses — except then a year later they went again, but the full range of evidence was not made available that can stand the legal scrutiny,” Chaudhry said.

Chaudhry seems optimistic about relations between Pakistan and the United States. “The point that I’m making is - it’s a resilient relationship and if it is passing through a bad patch today, it will come right back to normal just like it has come back in the past,” he said.





Monitoring Desk