NEW YORK,(APP): Foreign Minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif has said that Lakshar-e-Taiba (LeT), its leader Hafiz Saeed and the Haqqanis are liabilities to Pakistan and that it needs time to get rid of them.
Khawaja Asif, who was answering questions after delivering his prepared remarks at the Asia Society forum on Tuesday, said that the US, which is putting pressure on Pakistan to tackle terrorist groups operating from its soil, once used to treat them as "darlings" just 20 to 30 years back.
"They are liabilities... I accept they are liabilities. But give us time to get rid of these liabilities because we do not have the assets to manage those liabilities. You are increasing the liabilities further" by harping on them, he said.
The moderator, eminent journalist and Columbia University Journalism School Dean Steve Coll, specifically mentioned that Hafiz Saeed had started a political party.
The Foreign Minister replied: "I agree we should continue our efforts (to) defang, dismantling whatever remnants are there of extremism or terrorists in Pakistan. I don't disagree with that.
"You mentioned a name. It is a proscribed organization, the gentleman is under house arrest. But I agree with you that on that score, on that account we have to do more.
"There are people in Pakistan who can be a liability in times of crisis for Pakistan and for the region, I agree," he added.
US President Donald Trump had last month criticized Pakistan for its support to terror groups, saying it receives billions in US aid but continues to harbour militants.
"Don't blame us for the Haqqanis (the Haqqani terror network) and don't blame us for the Hafiz Saeeds ," the minister said.
"These were the people who were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back. They were being dined and wined in the White House and now you say 'go to hell Pakistanis because you are nurturing these people."
The foreign minister said President Trump's comments hurt Pakistan and its people. He said the so-called US20 billion aid to Pakistan was in fact repayment of the services rendered by Pakistan in fighting terrorism.'
Asif also blamed the US for the rise of terrorist organizations in Pakistan, citing its support for the militants against the former Soviet Union during its occupation of Afghanistan.
Replying to a question on India, Asif said that while Pakistan won't give up its principled stand on the Kashmir dispute, former Prime Minister "Nawaz Sharif staked his political career, for achieving or stabilizing our relationship. I don't say... pleasant or lovey-dovey relationship can be achieved overnight. But stabilizing our relationship with India" was possible.
He added that Nawaz Sharif was called Indian Prime Minister Narendra "Modi's friend and traitor" by the opposition in Pakistan. "But despite that Nawaz Sharif pursued that objective. In all sincerity and all commitment, today he thinks that friendship with India will be good for both countries and bring lasting peace to the subcontinent."