ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday said that Pakistan, in the meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, made it clear that no terrorist safe havens exist on Pakistani soil.
Tillerson arrived on a one-day visit to Pakistan today (Tuesday), after he earlier met with the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a surprise visit to the country on Monday.
Speaking on Geo News programme Aaj Shahzaib Khanzada Kay Sath, the minister said that in the meeting with Tillerson earlier in the day, the civil and military leadership presented a detailed narrative about its stance on the country’s war against terrorism.
In response to a question about the conditions put forward by the US for Pakistan today, the minister said that Tillerson emphasised on the need for Pakistan to deal with the Haqqani Network and terrorists’ safe havens on its soil.
“Terrorist attacks are not planned on or executed from Pakistani soil, there are no terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, and we made this clear to the US delegation today,” Asif said, insisting that the Pakistani leadership firmly holds on to the stance that it is not protecting or supporting the Haqqani network.
“We emphasized again and again that their [US] assessment [about Pakistan] is wrong,” he said. “We are not responsible for the increase in the drug trade in Afghanistan or the increasing [Afghan] territory occupied by terrorists.”
He insisted that even if Pakistan were to be blamed, it could not be involved in any of the deep-rooted issues that exist in its neighbouring country beyond the borders joining the two countries.
“Who is responsible for all the issues that exist in the entire Afghan territory?” Asif said. “Where are the coalition forces when a truck [full of explosives] successfully reaches its target in the heart of the country and blows up?”
The foreign minister firmly put across the country’s stance on the war against terrorism.
“Our armed forces and law enforcement agencies have taken action, we have yielded results and will continue to do so but not for Afghan or American interest,” he said. “Our fight against terrorism is our own and the results we yield are our win.”
Responding to a question about the US allegations of housing terrorists on Pakistan, Asif said that the country’s leadership thinks that sending Afghan refugees back is a plausible solution to the security situation in the region.
“We asked them [US] to send the refugees back and then hold us accountable if any security lapses occur,” the foreign minister said, adding that Pakistan is already actively engaged in border management and fencing.
“We stated very clearly [to the US delegation] that the difficulties both, they and we are faced with, were in fact created by them when they came to this region in the 80s,” he said. “Radicalization won’t end overnight and it is our problem first.”
The minister also said that the purpose of a joint meeting of the civil and military leadership with the US secretary of state and his delegation was to convey a united narrative of the country.
“It was a deliberate move and a coordinated effort from civil and military leadership to have a joint meeting in an effort to convey a single, united narrative from the country,” Asif said. “We want to convey national unity from the very top.”
The US has assured that it will make efforts for a peaceful eastern border [with India], the minister said. He added that the US delegation, in today’s meeting, said that it was aware that India is directly or indirectly involved in disrupting peace on the Pak-Afghan border.
The US secretary of state, in a statement to the Afghan media, had said that he would pressure Islamabad to take action on the support Taliban and other “terrorist organisations” receive in the country.
The statement brought a backlash from Pakistan’s parliament, which denounced the US official’s. The Chairman of Senate Raza Rabbani declared Tillerson’s statement about Pakistan ‘unacceptable.’
“His [Tillerson’s] statement seems like that of a viceroy’s before they visit a country,” Rabbani had said in a Senate session earlier today, adding that the US secretary of state’s tone was ‘inappropriate.’