Ongoing tense relations and rift in Pak-US bilateral ties has rightly been attributed to Washington’s singular focus on military partnership rather than an overarching engagement with Pakistan as two democratic states with mutual concerns and as a consequence to these developments Islamabad’s ties have massively deepened with traditional and most trust worthy ally China and intense re-engagements are also bringing Islamabad closer to Moscow.

This matter of fact realistic assessment has been given by Defense Minister Khurrum Dastgir in an exclusive interview with the Voice of America (VOA).

The Defense Minister said in January last US President Donald Trump suspended military assistance to Islamabad on the grounds that US has received nothing but “ lies and deceit” in return, we are still very serious in maintaining our engagement with Washington, unfortunately the Trump administration has chosen to focus on the transactional part of the relationship, a renewed diplomatic re-engagement with Islamabad has been underway but these efforts are yet to produce desired results , despite US adverse actions Pakistan has neither impended nor blocked its ground and airlines of communications being used for ferrying vital supplies to international troops in Afghanistan, you can’t have a country whom you will accuse of being deceitful and simultaneously being a major non-NATO ally.

The minister emphatically and strongly rejected allegations that Pakistan harbours “safe havens” citing latest US military assessments the Taliban control or contest a large chunk of the Afghan territory, Pakistan strictly maintains years of counter-terrorism operations have cleared its land of all terrorist groups and in the process the country has suffered much more than the US with the tens of thousands of casualties caused by retaliatory bombings.

Despite being old allies, relations between Islamabad and Washington will remain tense and bitter for quite some time and will improve gradually if only US administration changes its hostile and negative attitude towards Pakistan to positive and friendly.

ASMAAR BILAL,

Lahore, March 27.