Bemoans US ‘trust deficit’ over Afghan conflict
LONDON: Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said there is a “huge trust deficit” between his country and the US over the conflict in Afghanistan.
Mr Asif was speaking to BBC after meeting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Tillerson is the first senior US official to visit Pakistan after President Trump accused the country of providing “safe havens” to the Taliban.
Mr Tillerson repeated Mr Trump’s call for Pakistan to do more to eradicate militant groups within its territory.
But Mr Asif insisted that there are no “safe havens” in Pakistan.
“They do not need our territory any more. Almost 40% of Afghan territory is now under the direct control of the Taliban.”
US military sources suggest the Taliban control about 10% of Afghanistan and contest some 30% of the country.
US and Afghan officials believe the militants are able to use sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan to plan attacks in Afghanistan.
But Mr Asif blamed the “ineptitude” of American and international forces in Afghanistan for not ending the conflict.
He dismissed the possibility of economic sanctions being levelled against Pakistan by the US if his country is not deemed to be doing enough to tackle the Taliban. Pakistan only received “a trickle” of economic assistance from the US, he said.
“We do not get any military hardware from them. We are not like in the past when we were their proxy.
“Having said that there is willingness on both sides to bridge this trust deficit” he said.
Khawaja Asif said that Pakistan and US have agreed to enhance confidence so that matters between the two countries could be addressed in a befitting manner.
There is a “huge trust deficit” between his country and the US over the conflict in Afghanistan, Asif said, insisting that there are no “safe havens” in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s civil and military institutions are on the same page which has given a positive message to the United States, he said.
Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan but India is creating unrest in Pakistan by using the Afghan soil, he added.
Asif said that deficiency of trust between the two countries would not end overnight. It would take time to get the ice accumulated over last many years. The situation, however, would improve by the recent attempts, he said.
Pakistan is already paying the price of old friendship with America, we have lost 70,000 lives and suffered tens of billions dollars of losses. The issues would not be resolved through threats but through reconciliation.
Friendship with America has destroyed our peaceful culture and tolerance-based society. We are trying to rectify the damages that we suffered due to friendship with the US whose thirty to forty years of friendship has taught us many things, he said. INP