US, Pakistan need to understand mutual legitimate security concerns
WASHINGTON:Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday called for a structured dialogue between Pakistan and the United States, saying the two countries must realize other's legitimate security concerns and cooperate with each other to achieve the common objective of defeating terrorism and stabilizing Afghanistan.
He was talking to Pakistan media to summarize his visit to Washington at the invitation to attend the Annual National Prayer Breakfast hosted by the White House and attended by President Trump. During his brief stay, the Minister met with lawmakers, media and Pakistani community leaders and apprised them of Pakistan's position on the current stand-off with the United States, and the country's economic conditions.
The Minister said that Pakistan and the United States have a long history of cooperation which has benefitted both, adding that Islamabad desires strong ties with Washington on the basis of mutual respect.
There should be an open and candid discussion. Both countries need each other and they need to understand other's legitimate security concerns, the Minister said, adding that any relationship has to be based on dignity and mutual respect for each other and nothing can be achieved through using pressure tactics.
Emphasizing the need for working together, the Minister said that the US was the biggest stakeholder in Afghanistan at the world level, whereas peace and stability in Pakistan was linked to peace and stability in Afghanistan.For peace in Pakistan, there has to be peace in Afghanistan,he said, adding that both countries cannot change their geography.
Minister Iqbal observed that Pakistan did not need American aid, but that the US has a very important place in Pakistan's development agenda. The US has an important role in developing Pakistan's human resources, he added Replying to a question, the Minister said that there has been a significant reduction in terrorism-related incidents compared with the situation in 2013 when the PML-N government took over after a landslide victory in the general elections. We have controlled terrorism with our own meager resources and have forced extremist groups to leave the country, he added.
The Minister also underlined the need for respecting Pakistan's territorial integrity and said if the US has any information, it should be shared with Pakistan and the government will take action. He said the two countries have to fight the menace of terrorism together.
He said that spoilers are trying to create a wedge between Pakistan and the United States, but added that they two countries have a long history of cooperation and should find common grounds for working together in the future.
To a question, he said that India's role in Afghanistan was counter-productive. He however made it clear that Pakistan was fully capable of defending itself and no one can harm the country. Peace in South Asia will benefit all regional countries, he added.
Replying to a question if the aid-cut would impact Pakistan, the Minister said that government is now working with a change approach and the nation has defeated terrorism with its own resources and has survived hardest of times.APP