A bunker meeting between Rex Tillerson and Afghan President is evidence of US failure: Kh Asif

ISLAMABAD - America’s security “failures” in Afghanistan are evident from events of the week when visiting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could not move out of a US military base and invited Afghan leaders to his “bunker” for talks, Khawaja Asif said Thursday.

“This situation tells the whole story of US failures, despite fighting in the country for 16 years,” Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Asif maintained that Pakistan is seeking transparent relations on “equal terms” with the United States and is ready to offer its full cooperation in fighting terrorism, but “without compromising its sovereignty” and scapegoating Islamabad would not be acceptable.

Tillerson visited Afghanistan on Monday for two hours. He held talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and top leaders of his unity government at the US-run Bagram military base, about 60 kms north of the capital, Kabul. Officials cited security concerns for arranging the meeting at the base.

Asif further said the decrease in drone attacks in the past few years showed that there were no more safe havens for the terrorists in Pakistan.Taking to Twitter, Asif shared a chart of drone attacks carried out in the last 12 years from 2005 till Oct 15, 2017, in Pakistan.

He tweeted: “12yrs drone attacks chart. If we have sanctuaries why frequency is sharply down. The US won’t hesitate attacking funeral, weddings to get targets.”

The minister said since 2013 there had been just 65 drone attacks in Pakistan, and 2010 being the year when the pilotless planes attacked 90 times, the highest in 12 years.

In 2013, there were 24 drone strikes; in 2014, 19; in 2015, 14; in 2016, 03 and in the 10 months this year, 05 attacks took place, shows the chart shared by the foreign minister.

Giving a policy statement in the Senate on Wednesday, the foreign minister said Pakistan had categorically conveyed to the US that “we neither need military aid nor economic assistance”.

In Washington, the US State Department said that Pakistan’s assertion that there were no terrorists’ safe havens on its soil would not automatically lead to sanctions against it. Spokesperson Heather Nauert refused to assess the impact of Tillerson’s visit to Pakistan on US-Pakistan ties.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar said the US should seek the truth in its Afghanistan strategy and “not allow our difference to turn into disputes.”

A meeting of the standing committee was held here. Bakhtyar said Pakistan’s response to Trump’s South Asian policy had been collective, measured and based on realistic assessment of the situation. He said it was a moment of truth for the US in Afghanistan. 

He appreciated the steps taken by Pakistan to improve management along the Pak-Afghan border and the need for repatriation of Afghan refugees. He emphasized the importance of engaging the US in promoting peace in Afghanistan. He expressed the hope that the US will not see Pakistan through the Afghan prism and work on a broad-based relationship which will be to the benefits of both countries. 

The chairman and members appreciated the foreign minister for his comprehensive briefing on the agenda items relating to President Trump’s statement and his visit to China, Iran, Turkey and Russia.

The committee criticised the statement made by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani relating to China Pakistan Economic Corridor. It also expressed serious concern over the remarks made by Tillerson in Kabul and New Dehli with regard to Pakistan.

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