There is a “huge trust deficit” between Pakistan and the US over the Afghan conflict, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has told the BBC.
“There is basically one key factor which is missing in our relationship that is trust. We have a huge trust deficit. We are desperately trying, both parties Americans and Pakistanis to bridge this trust deficit.”
The foreign minister stressed that Pakistan did not have terrorist safe havens and the US was not buying Pakistan’s narrative, neither was Pakistan buying the narrative of the US. “But we are talking. They must do some self-accountability also. Why have they lost 45% of Afghan territory in last 10-12 years.”
The foreign minister in an earlier interview on Geo News programme Aaj Shahzaib Khanzada Kay Sath spoke about US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s meeting with Pakistan’s civil and military leadership. In that interview, Asif said that Tillerson had been clearly conveyed that there were no terrorist safe havens in Pakistan.
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 emphasised 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.”
Tillerson flew to India after his visit to Islamabad and expressed concern that extremist groups posed a threat to the “stability and security” of the Pakistan government.
“Quite frankly my view — and I expressed this to the leadership of Pakistan — is we also are concerned about the stability and security of Pakistan´s government as well,” he told reporters in New Delhi.