PM hits back at US in terror stalemate

Islamabad – Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi rejected US accusations that the country provides sanctuary to militant groups and said attacks in the region were originating across the border in Afghanistan.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Abbasi said Pakistan would act against terrorists found within its borders, including the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network.

“We have asked them to share any intelligence about the Haqqani network, we will take action,” Abbasi said. “The attacks however are being made from across the border; we have pinpointed even the sanctuaries of the attackers. Cross-border infiltration from Afghanistan is the order of the day.”

“There is no room for them to take a tough stance here, because Pakistan is the country which is fighting the war on terror,” Abbasi said. “Somebody gives us intelligence and we will act upon it. It is our war, not theirs.”

When asked if Pakistan would move against Taliban leaders who have allegedly lived for years in Quetta, Abbasi said “We will act against them if they really exist.”

Abbasi reiterated that Trump’s troop increase and support to Afghanistan will end in failure and urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to agree to peace talks. “We have assured them of whatever assistance we would be able to offer, but things are quite fragmented on that side,” he said. “Pakistan has tried twice, but the talks have been sabotaged.”

The US also escalated its criticism of Pakistan last week after a high court in Lahore ordered the release of Hafiz Saeed from house arrest. The White House warned his release may damage bilateral relations.

“The court, a three-judge bench, has released him saying there are no charges against him, the country has a law you know,” Abbasi said. “Prosecute him internationally if there is substance to these charges – these are accusations only. No evidence has been provided by India.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reached Russia on Thursday to participate in the 16th Meeting of the Council of the Heads of Government (CHG) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at Sochi from November 30 to December 1.

According to State Radio, the Prime Minister was received by Deputy Governor and other senior officials of Krasnodar Krai region.

PM Abbasi is attending the summit at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, D.A. Medvedev. It is the first SCO Heads of Government meeting that Pakistan will attend after assumption of full membership of the organisation in June this year.

He would outline Pakistan’s commitment to SCO’s objectives including fighting terrorism and extremism and its sincere interest in regional peace, stability and development. Abbasi, alongwith his SCO counterparts, will participate in the SCO retreat being hosted by the Russian Prime Minister. The retreat will be followed by a plenary session of CHG where the Prime Minister will deliver a statement. The meeting will close on a signing ceremony of decisions and a joint communiqué by the heads of the delegations. On the sidelines of the summit, the Prime Minister would also hold important bilateral meetings with heads of delegations from other member countries.

The SCO now comprises eight member States, including Pakistan, China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It has four observer states: Iran, Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia, and six dialogue partners, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

The SCO’s objectives include building mutual trust, equality, respect for cultural diversity and good-neighbourly relations.

It aims to promote effective cooperation in the areas of political, security, trade, economy and social sectors. SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure contributes towards regional peace, security and stability.


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