Pakistan defence minister hits hard at US

Pakistan defence minister hits hard at US

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Defense, Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan on Tuesday said it is high time for Pakistan to have ‘ruthlessly candid dialogue’ with United States with everything on the table.

He was addressing a Pubic Talk entitled “Contours of Security Environment in Pakistan” organized here at Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).

The Minister said that United States (US), in spite of spending billions of Dollars and getting its soldiers killed, could not win the Afghan war as it has only managed to control 40 per cent of Afghanistan during last the 15 years.

“America needs to deal with that ungoverned area before it points fingers towards Pakistan’s role in Afghan peace process,” he added.

“US military aid suspension to Pakistan has no importance. At the same time, strategic dialogue between the two countries has also faced suspension for last two years. High level dialogues with US would not work until resumption and consistency in working level dialogues,” he said.

Khurram Dastgir said that US allegations and illogical demands have affected serious the efforts, made by Pakistan to ensure peace in region as well as the world.

He said sacrifices of Pakistan in war against terrorism were above board and it would not allow anyone to make it a scapegoat and bring Afghan war on its soil.

He said Pakistan has been facing challenges where it has been confronting with external threat on eastern border with India and facing internal threat due to terrorism.

The Minister said the successful conduct of operation with Zarb-e-Azb and on-going Radd-ul-Fassad have made Pakistan and and region a citadel of peace.

Replying to a question, he said presence of Afghan refugees in large number in Pakistan was also another cause of internal instability. The decision of extension for a month stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan has been taken by the Cabinet, he added.

The Minister said a sustainable peace in Afghanistan was part of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Answering another question, Khurram Dastgir said Pakistan and China were partners and all-weathered friends. Multi-billion dollars project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would bring development and prosperity, not only in Pakistan but also in the region.

“CPEC is the first ever project in history of Pak-China relationship that will actually bring economical success to region,” he added.

Regarding Indian hostile attitude, he said, Pakistan desires solution of all outstanding issue with India but its aggression along the Line of Control (LoC) and working boundary was a matter of concern.

He said the number of Indian provocations against Pakistan were more than 1300 during year 2016.

“Justice was not just required for Mumbai attacks but it was also imperative for victims of Samjotha Express,” the Minister said.

He said US deemed India as its strategic partner in region, and it has been trying to convince Pakistan not to see India as a threat while Pakistan clearly sees India as a threat to its peace and stability.

Khurram said the bilateral relations with regional countries like Russia and Iran were improving.

“Pak-Russia conducted joint military exercises. Visit of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to Tehran is proving to be step forward in strengthening mutual relationship with regional countries,” he said.