Pakistan will not compromise on security interests even if US cancels all aids: officials

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Pakistan will not compromise on security interests even if US cancels all aids: officials

WASHINGTON: Adviser on Finance Miftah Ismail has said that Pakistan will not compromise on its security interests even if the United States (US) cancels all its aid to the country.

In an interview to *The Financial Times*, he also criticised US President Donald Trump’s Jan 1 tweet in which he vowed to change the nature of America’s relationship with Pakistan, which he claimed was based on “nothing but lies and deceit".

“Some guy wakes up early in the morning and tweets; I don’t know what the … he tweets,” Mr Ismail said.

Three days after Mr Trump’s New Year morning tweet, the Trump administration suspending security assistance to Pakistan and asked Islamabad to prove its commitment to fighting all terrorist groups operating in the region if it wants the aid to be restored.

Mr Ismail, however, said such pressures cannot force Islamabad to abandon its security interests. Islamabad fears that the United States is purposely giving India a larger role in Afghanistan, enabling it to use the Afghan territory for stirring troubles in Pakistan.

Pakistani officials claim that India has helped TTP set up camps inside Afghanistan, which they now use for launching attacks into Pakistan.

“We are the sixth or seventh-largest country in the world and have the seventh-largest standing army in the world,” Mr Ismail told *Financial Times*. “We’re not going to compromise on our security interest, on our national interest, based on a few hundred million dollars, I promise you that.”

Mr Ismail also claimed that Washington was teaming up with New Delhi, saying: “I think that America and India probably together were just focused on embarrassing Pakistan”.

Despite this, the United States and Pakistan have stayed engaged. Since January, several senior US civil and military officials have visited Islamabad for consultations on President Trump’s South Asia strategy, which seeks to defeat Taliban, both politically and militarily. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua also visited Washington to share their views with US officials.

Last week, Washington sent yet another envoy, Ambassador Alice Wells, to Islamabad who told Pakistani officials that the United States wants to stay engaged with all levels of the Pakistani government for talks on eliminating terrorism from the region.

But a Pakistani official said this weekend that both sides were still looking for a ‘common ground’ to make these talks more useful.

Mohammad Faisal, a spokesman for the ministry of foreign affairs told the US-backed Radio Free Europe that “the main purpose of these talks” was to “find that common ground”.