Pakistan genuinely concerned about India's role in new U.S. strategy: Khawaja Asif

Asif meets top US diplomat in Washington

Asif meets top US diplomat in Washington

Pakistan greatly values its relationship with the U.S. in seven-decade long history of result-oriented cooperation, he said in his opening remarks.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, speaking about the new United States (US) policy in Afghanistan, told journalists at the Pakistan Embassy on Thursday that Islamabad is "genuinely concerned" about New Delhi's role in the plan.

A common pattern that is emerging in worldwide forums is that when Pakistan is accused of providing safe havens to terrorists, the nation shifts the focus to alleged human rights violations in Kashmir carried out by India.

Asif has met with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who described Pakistan as a partner of the USA and critical to the long-term stability of the region. He insisted Pakistan has wiped out militant hideouts on its soil with little help from the US, which has restricted military assistance to Pakistan, and it can't be blamed for the violence in Afghanistan. "There's a great deal that Pakistan can benefit economically, diplomatically, financially for its government; economically for its people; by finally sensing that the tide has shifted against this", Mattis said. "We are not saying that we are saints". Perhaps in the past, we made some mistakes. "But since the last three, four years, we are wholeheartedly, single mindedly, we are targeting these terrorists", Asif said.

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Asif singled out Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, saying the senator was "playing to his constituents" when he criticized Pakistan. "We are living in hell", the minister retorted, "The sad part is, America went away chest thumping after that", and Pakistan was left to deal with the rest.The minister reiterated that a trust deficit exists between the two countries for a reason. He did not elaborate on what those steps might be.

He cited Pakistan's military operations clearing North Waziristan, long believed to be a haven for the Haqqani network.

The diplomatic offensive unfurled by Pakistan to seek support of the regional countries including China, Russia, Iran and Turkey further solidified and strengthened Pakistan's position on the issue, which was amply manifested in the speech by the Prime Minister Shahid Khan Abbassi. If that happens, nobody should expect restraint from us.

"We firmly believe that through consistent, structured and constructive engagement at political and diplomatic levels, both Pakistan and the USA can continue to work together for the common goal of peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia", the minister said. He said that terrorist outfits were liabilities and Pakistan needs time to get rid of them.

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