Allies aren’t put on notice, US told

ISLAMABAD –  Pakistan on Friday told the United States that allies do not put each other on notice, adding that Vice President Mike Pence’s controversial statement in Afghanistan clashes with the outcome of recent Pak-US talks.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua termed US vice president’s comments alarming, and said the US must treat Pakistan and India on equal footing.

This came after Pence told the US troops at Bagram Air Base that President Donald Trump had “put Pakistan on notice”.

He also claimed Pakistan had “much to lose” if it continued to “harbour criminals”.

Alleging Pakistan had provided “safe haven to the Taliban” and other terrorist groups “too often”, the US vice president said Islamabad must stop doing so.

In response, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said Pence’s “statement is at variance with the extensive conversations we have had with the US administration.”

He added: “Allies do not put each other on notice. On notice should be those factors responsible for exponential increase in drug production, expansion of ungoverned spaces, industrial scale corruption, breakdown of governance, and letting Daesh gain a foothold in Afghanistan.”

Also, Faisal said, focus should be on creating peace and reconciliation mechanisms than leveling baseless blames.

“Finally, externalising blame should be put on notice,” Faisal said.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua also expressed deep concern over Mike Pence’s comments on Pakistan.

In a meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on Friday, she said the US must treat Pakistan and India on equal footing.

She remarked that Pence’s comments were alarming and that US Defense Secretary James Mattis had assured Pakistan of resolving the issue of Afghan soil being used by terrorists to carry out attacks in Pakistan.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Nuzhat Sadiq at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services, and was attended among others by senators Mushahid Hussain, Farhatullah Babar, Karim Ahmed Khawaja, Daud Achakzai, the foreign secretary, the special secretaries of foreign affairs and cabinet division.

Position on Palestine

Janjua told the committee that Pakistan had adopted a clear position at the United Nations on Palestinian issue especially the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

This week, the United Nations General Assembly voted against Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Trump threatened that the US would stop aid to the countries who voted against Washington.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, repeated the warning, saying Washington would “remember”, which countries “disrespected” the US and voted against it.

Still however, 128 members voted in favour of the resolution supporting the international consensus Jerusalem issue can only be settled as an agreed final issue in a peace deal.

The countries, which voted for the resolution, included major recipients of US aid such as Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Only nine states, including the US and Israel, voted against the resolution.

The other supporters of Washington were Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guatemala and Honduras.

An official statement said the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs appreciated the Foreign Office for Pakistan’s strong and principles-based stand at the UN on the issue of Palestine.

The meeting was given a comprehensive briefing by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua on the visit of US defence secretary to Pakistan and the bilateral relations between the two countries.

It was told that the Foreign Office was in conversation with US on the concerns that were not just one sided but two-way.

The foreign secretary said Pakistan had been successful to strongly present and defend its narrative in war against terrorism at a number of multi-lateral forums, said the statement.

Janjua said there was an understanding on both sides about addressing concerns and taking the relationship progressively.

At the meeting, Pakistan People’s Party Senator Farhatullah Babar said the reminder by the US that Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed was a terrorist who carried head money of 10 million dollars was preceded by the new US policy containing, for the first time, the element of unilateral action against militants and expressed concern over this juxtaposition.

Al-Qaeda founder Osma bin Laden, he said, carried head money of 25 million dollars and was taken out by a unilateral action by the US Seals without prior warning, whereas now a specific declaration had been made and the two statements ominously juxtaposed together.

Reminding that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had banned Lashkar Tayyaba but was now publicly defending Hafiz Saeed, Babar said, such statements directly played into the hands of those who accused Pakistan of harbouring militants.

He said for far too long “we have been saying that action will be taken if information about terrorists was provided but it has not cut ice.”

Babar asked if the state was prepared to carry forward investigations in cross-border attacks by militants allegedly based in Pakistan as a step forward.

The PPP lawmaker also drew attention towards the strongly-worded condemnation by the Foreign Office of the Houthis missile strike against Saudi Arabia, saying that it could lead to Pakistan being sucked into the conflict.

He said that missile strikes had to be condemned but a balance must also be struck by taking note of the missile launches in Yemen that also resulted in civilian casualties.

Babar raised the issue of compensation to the victims of the first Gulf War in 1991, and the Pakistani who were displaced at the time.

The Senate committee also discussed the matter of filling-up vacant Pakistani chairs in foreign universities.

The committee was told by special secretary Cabinet Division that the case to revive the old system of refilling those 14 seats with certain improvements was submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Prime Minister’s Office has asked the Cabinet Secretary to make a presentation.

Three members from Senate, senators Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah and Ayesha Raza Farooq will also be invited to the presentation.

The committee recommended to expedite the work on this matter and to have a deadline of first quarter of 2018 to fill the vacant seats.

Regarding irregularities and legal discrepancies in the bidding process for visa facilitation services by the High Commission for Pakistan in London, the committee was told that contracts had not been awarded as yet.



Allies aren’t put

on notice, US told

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