ISLAMABAD - Pakistan will neither surrender to the US nor compromise on its sovereignty, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif Wednesday told the Senate, denying any specific demands have been made to Islamabad.

Giving a policy statement, he said the US has failed in Afghanistan militarily. Therefore Pakistani side in the Tuesday meeting with US team, headed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, urged them to find a political solution to the Afghan mess.

Pakistani leadership has conveyed to the US that the country was ready to play its part for peace in the region but “we will not become their proxy”.

The foreign minister also said that Pakistan has made it crystal clear to the US that any effort to give so-called ‘stabilisation role’ to India was simply unacceptable.

Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani and Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan had asked the minister to explain the revelation of Tillerson ahead of his visit to Pakistan that US had made some specific requests to Pakistan and conditioned the bilateral relations with the fulfilment of that list.

Khwaja Asif said no specific “wish list” has been given to Pakistan; however, the US has given a list of 75 wanted terrorists and pressed Islamabad for going tough on Haqqani network.

Responding to a query, he said that JuD chief was neither on that list nor US secretary of state mentioned him during the talks.

“Tillerson didn’t specifically mention Hafiz Saeed [the chief of Jamaatud Dawa] during his visit but he pressed for going tough on Haqqanis,” Asif said.

Respect, not assistance

The minister said that the meeting with Tillerson took place in a very cordial atmosphere and that attitude of Pakistani leadership was not apologetic at all.

The minister said unlike the past, the present government had neither surrendered, nor succumbed to any pressure after the controversial August 21 speech of US President Donald Trump.

He said that unlike martial law regime of General (r) Pervez Musharraf, both civilian and military leadership conveyed a unanimous message that there will be no compromise on national security and integrity of the country. He said the compromises made by military dictators in the past were the reason for the situation Pakistan was facing today.

“We did not surrender on one phone call like General Musharraf [did], and instead conveyed to the US that we will not fight its proxy war,” he said, adding that US had been told that Pakistan did not need any economic assistance and military equipment but relations between the two countries should be based on mutual respect.

“We have told the Americans to give us actionable intelligence and we will take prompt action like we did in recent recovery of a US-Canadian couple.”

List of terrorists

About the list given by the US, Asif said that Haqqanis were on top of the list and there was no Pakistani among the wanted militants. The list even did not say that these wanted terrorists were taking refuge in Pakistan.

Asif further informed that some of those on the list were dead while others were taking refuge in Afghanistan. “Some of them were shadow governors of Taliban in different provinces of Afghanistan.”

He said Pakistan and Afghanistan had also exchanged lists of wanted terrorists. “We have given them [Afghanistan] a list of about 100 individuals while their list contains 70-75 names”, he remarked.

Khawaja Asif said that Taliban and ISIS control almost 45 percent area of Afghanistan where they have shadow governors, which is enough for them to plan and execute terrorist activities there and that they do not need Pakistani territory of it.

 

Taliban not in Pakistan’s control

Khwaja Asif said that Pakistan should not be blamed for the failures in Afghanistan. The US has been told that Pakistan was ready to play its due role for finding a political solution to Afghan crisis as military was no solution to the problem.

Pakistan has stressed upon Tillerson that the US policy on Afghanistan had been framed by generals who failed in Afghanistan but were not ready to admit ground realities. “Let this policy be framed by politicians and policymakers over there”, he remarked.

The minister said that the US did consider Taliban a political entity, and negotiations were going on with them.

[But] we have informed the US that Pakistan’s influence on Taliban had diminished as they have found some other [regional] players for their sustenance,” he said.

Asif said Pakistan also pointed out that there were some other regional countries whose role was absolutely indispensable in resolving the Afghanistan problem, namely Iran, China, Russia and Turkey. The US should ask them to play a role in resolving Afghan issue instead of demanding Pakistan of ‘doing more’.

 

 

Indian, Afghan negative roles unacceptable

The foreign minister said that the US has been firmly told that any effort to give India a ‘so-called stabilisation role’ was simply not acceptable to Pakistan. “We have categorically told the US that India is the reason behind the instability in South Asia.”

Khawaja Asif also talked about the unprecedented violations of ceasefire on the Eastern border over the last one year and regretted that Afghanistan was playing the role of facilitator for India.

He said Pakistan has 648km long border with Afghanistan and not even a single soldier or border security force personnel is deployed on the Afghan side. That unmanned area is used for planning and execution of terrorist activities, he added.

The minister said the US has also been told that this negative role of Afghanistan, of being a facilitator for India, was in no way acceptable for Pakistan.

 

 

Border fencing

Asif said that US has also been told that Afghan ruling elite does not want to end the so-called war against terrorism as they have vested interest and they are making billions of dollars through drug trade.

On its part, the minister said that Pakistan was ready to fence the border and had also asked the US to fence the border from Afghan side that will help in checking cross-border movement of militants.

“We also told US to repatriate about two million Afghan refugees from Pakistan but it’s not ready saying the security situation is not favourable,” he said.

 

 

 

Visible improvement in Pak security

The minister said that normal security given to Tillerson during his visit to Pakistan reflected that Pakistan had restored peace after rendering numerous sacrifices which the US should acknowledge.

“The way Tillerson had to meet Afghan President Asharaf Ghani at Baghram Airbase shows the US and forces of 16 other countries failed to restore peace in Afghanistan during the last sixteen year… so our contribution to eradicate the menace of terrorism from our soil must not be downplayed,” he added.

Asif said a decrease in the frequency of drone attacks inside Pakistan was a clear manifestation of the fact that Pakistan had cleared its areas from the people who used to become reason for violation of country’s airspace and sovereignty.