ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif is set to rush to the United States as President Donald Trump warned that Washington will no longer tolerate terrorists’ “safe havens” in Pakistan.

Days before Trump’s speech, the US had made it clear to Pakistan through the diplomatic channels that Washington would only help where Islamabad delivered for the US – a carrot and stick approach.

Chief of the US Central Command General Joseph Votel visited Pakistan over the weekend and discussed the Pak-US ties with the civil and military leadership.

Hours after Trump’s statement, US Ambassador David Hale paid a “courtesy call” on Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and briefed him about President Trump’s speech on the US policy review on South Asia and Afghanistan.

“Ambassador Hale conveyed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looked forward to meeting the foreign minister in the next few days to have an in-depth discussion on the state of play in the bilateral relationship as well as the new US policy on South Asia,” a foreign ministry statement said.

Asif said that he had accepted the invitation when the US secretary of state called him on August 14th and looked forward to his early interactions in Washington.

“The foreign minister reiterated Pakistan’s perspective and desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan. Highlighting Pakistan’s immense sacrifices in the enduring fight against terrorism, the foreign minister underlined Pakistan’s continued desire to work with the international community to eliminate the menace of terrorism,” said the statement.

Officials in the foreign ministry told The Nation that Trump’s speech had alarmed the government and top diplomats were preparing Pakistan’s case to be presented before the US secretary of state.

“The foreign minister will carry the details of Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror and our commitment to eliminate the menace,” a senior official said.

He added: “Trump’s speech seems to be influenced by the anti-Pakistan policies of India and Afghanistan. We have to clear the doubts to move forward.”

Responding to Trump’s speech, PPP leader Senator Sherry Rehman said that it was both disturbing and disappointing to hear a repeat of Pakistan being pressured to do more to stabilise Afghanistan.

“After years of shouldering the heavy lift in Afghanistan and suffering the blowback of an earlier transformational war 30 years ago, Pakistan should not have had to hear recrimination as a non-NATO ally that has given unparalleled sacrifices in life, resources and national trauma to fighting a joint battle against terrorism on the Afghan border. There is little mention of the cost Pakistan has incurred or the successes it continues to achieve in clearing terrorism from the region,” the lawmaker, who remained Pakistan’s ambassador to the US in the recent years, said.

She said that attempting to isolate and unjustly treat Pakistan would only compound the problem, and would lead to a dangerous sharpening of strategic fault lines.

“It will obviously be counterproductive for [the] announced US goals to stabilise the region in cooperation with Afghanistan’s neighbours. Furthermore, it may redefine the notion of blowback,” Rehman added.

The senator said: “As this new American policy beats the dead horse of Pakistani subversion in Afghanistan, it will surely be seen as unfair, and perhaps even an expedient cover for inconvenient truths: that Afghanistan has been a colossal failure of American imagination, objectives and power projection in the region.”

She said the US policy and narrative continued to sequester Pakistan as a sole harbour for terror when its military and civilians gave their lives fighting for space against violent extremism.

“This ostensible new policy is a reflection of the ongoing confusion in the American policy establishment on how to achieve its own constantly shifting and changing goal posts,” Rehman said.

The senator maintained the policy was neither smart nor new or inclusive.

“Pakistan foresaw the rumblings and has consistently articulated and demonstrated its commitment to the common fight against terror. Sober minds should look to containing terror as a joint global project,” she remarked.

The senator regretted that the unfortunate US trend was to hector and not empathise that Pakistan was fighting the largest inland war against terrorism in the region.

“Telling it to do more alone won’t help. Not at all. The future of global and regional stability lies in joint solutions to common problems. The movements of terrorism, disease, climate trauma are all borderless challenges and must be countered in coordinated forums,” she said.

The former ambassador said: “We must recognise that there are no military solutions to these long wars, and policy clarity, regional cooperation and strategic consensus is critical to preserving key gains made in many parts of Afghanistan. Pakistan is invested more than any [other] country in [the] stability and peace in Afghanistan, especially given our long border and history of traffic and refugee hosting, so a more constructive path is better advised for all those committed to the same goals.”

She criticised the government for not responding to Trump’s statement despite the fact that “China has defended Pakistan.”

Rehman recalled that the PPP-led government had shut down Shamsi Airbase and the Nato supply lines for seven months until “we got an honourable apology for our soldiers’ martyrdom on the Afghan border.”

Analyst Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal said that the US should acknowledge Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror rather than hurling allegations.

He said that the US was exaggerating the financial aid to Pakistan. “In reality this assistance is nothing compared to our losses. They only want to pressurise us. Even if the US cuts our aid, we will not die,” Dr Jaspal added.