Pakistan hints at new US policy based on national security interests

Pakistan hints at new US policy based on national security interests

ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, speaking in Senate on Wednesday, said the US always blames Pakistan in order to hide its own shortcomings in Afghanistan, adding Islamabad is totally capable of defending its interests and will also protect it in its bilateral ties with Washington.

Regarding US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent visit to South Asia, Asif accused Trump of having different policies before and after the presidential elections of 2016.

“The Americans have devised a framework for their policy for South Asia, which is in fact focused on Afghanistan. It was devised by generals who have struggled in Afghanistan for the last 15 years. I do not think any policy can be made by people with that baggage and mindset,” he said.

“I made this clear both in America and in Pakistan, and continue to do so on media,” he asserted.

“Today, the US is here tomorrow it might not. Therefore, we tried to find solutions to regional issues with the support of regional players,” he said, urging neighbouring countries to find solution assuring peace in the region.

“As of now, Pakistan’s foreign policy is being shaped by all institutions,” Asif said. “No one institution is in charge of the foreign policy.”

“The situation is consistently improving and wherever we find flaws, we are working consistently to improve on them,” he said. “Whatever this forum recommends, we will use it to shape Pakistan’s policy accordingly.”

“The American secretary of state has told the US Senate that Pakistan needs effective communication on intelligence matters. If intelligence is shared with us effectively, we can expect better results in the future,” he stated.

“We are involved with America in the Afghan peace process. We share a boundary with the country and cannot change our geographical proximity to it,” he observed. “The opinions presented by lawmakers in this forum have been illuminating and will guide us towards improving our policy.”

“The entire region has a role to play in the Afghan process, and Pakistan wishes for a regional solution to the security challenges faced by the country,” he said.

“We will not let a foreign power dictate what we should do,” he assured. “We will safeguard our interests first.”

“We are very active on the platform of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and will utilise it to resolve regional issues,” said the foreign minister.

Later, he applauded the NTDC on completion of a transmission line from Port Qasim to Jamshoro.

US President Donald Trump, while unveiling his strategy for Afghanistan in August, had pilloried Pakistan for harbouring “agents of chaos” and the “very enemy US forces have been fighting in Afghanistan” for the past 17 years.