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Pence visit stokes up Pak-US tensions

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News Analysis |

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua on Friday expressed deep concern over US Vice President Mike Pence’s comments regarding Pakistan and its role in the war against terrorism during his unannounced visit to Afghanistan. This twist comes in the backdrop of deteriorating Pakistan and USA relations.

Addressing the Senate’s Standing Committee on External Affairs, Janjua said the recent comments by the US vice president and Pentagon were worrisome, and urged the United States to treat both Pakistan and India on an equal footing.

The Foreign Secretary’s statement also shows that the Pakistani state is cognizant of the machinations of the US in sucking in the nuclear power into the quagmire of the Afghan wire.

In an apparent warning to Pakistan during his surprise visit to Afghanistan on Thursday, Pence said that Pakistan has “much to gain from partnering with our efforts in Afghanistan. The days to shelter terrorists have gone. It has much to lose by continuing to harbour terrorists.”

Pence also said President Trump has “put Pakistan on notice for providing safe haven” to the terrorists on its soil. Expressing her reservations over Pence’s statement, Foreign Secretary Janjua pointed out that during US Defence Secretary James Mattis’ recent visit to Pakistan, the regional security situation and bilateral relations between the US and Pakistan were brought under discussion.

Read more: US continuous drift towards India raises new risks for Pakistan

She said Mattis had assured Pakistan of resolving the issue of use of Afghan soil by terrorists to carry out attacks in Pakistan. The United States should take into consideration Pakistan’s concerns, and treat both Pakistan and India equally, she said.

It also highlighted that the Pakistani state will no longer bow to the “Do More” rhetoric that has plagued its diplomatic conversations with the rest of the world.

The foreign secretary said Pakistan has destroyed terrorists’ safe havens on its soil. She added that talks between Pakistan and US are ongoing regarding the US’ one-sided statements. She reiterated that Pakistan wants to resolve all issues through negotiations with India. India, however, only wants talks on terrorism. India is carrying out state-terrorism in Occupied Kashmir, she lamented.

Hailing the United Nations’ resolution condemning US decision on Jerusalem by 128-9 vote, Janjua said Pakistan adopted a clear stance on Palestine. “Surprisingly, India also voted in favour of the UN resolution,” she added.

Pakistan has always refused to take the blame for the Haqqani Network and other alleged militant outfits, reminding the United States that these ‘terrorists’ were considered the ‘darlings’ of the White House up until a few decades ago. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, while attending the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, made remarks to this end at the Asia Society forum.

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“Don’t blame us for the Haqqanis [the Haqqani Network] and don’t blame us for the Hafiz Saeed’s [referring to the head of banned Jamaatud Dawa]. 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’.”

In an apparent warning to Pakistan during his surprise visit to Afghanistan on Thursday, Pence said that Pakistan has “much to gain from partnering with our efforts in Afghanistan. The days to shelter terrorists have gone.

The Pakistani foreign minister’s statement came after a barrage of hostile words by American officials directed against Pakistan, “a major non-NATO ally” of the USA.  Khwaja Asif was no doubt alluding to the US project of arming, training and abetting Muslim fighters against the Soviet troops occupying the country during the 1980s known as Operation Cyclone.

Experts assert that the US in connivance with India and Afghanistan tries to showcase the Pakistani military as complicit in terrorism, the military is on the forefront in fighting the war of bullets and that of narratives; dishing out details of its efforts against the menace of terrorism.

Read more: Pakistan trying to crack a fresh helicopter deal with the US!

The US wants to compel Pakistan to do what it allegedly doesn’t want to do. The non-military options are unlikely to have a telling impact on Pakistan. The US may find it tenable to target the repute of the Army and drive a wedge between the people and the armed forces.

The Foreign Secretary’s statement also shows that the Pakistani state is cognizant of the machinations of the US in sucking in the nuclear power into the quagmire of the Afghan wire. It also highlighted that the Pakistani state will no longer bow to the “Do More” rhetoric that has plagued its diplomatic conversations with the rest of the world.


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