The Foreign Office (FO) lashed out at the United States (US) hours after Vice President Mike Pence’s warning that the Trump administration has “put Pakistan on notice”, claiming that the statements diverged from recent conversations between both countries’ officials.
“Allies do not put each other on notice,” the FO statement said, noting that Pence’s scathing remarks were “at variance with the extensive conversations we [Islamabad] have had with the US administration”.|
The FO statement stressed the need for the US to create peace and reconciliation mechanisms instead of shifting blame onto Pakistan for its failures in Afghanistan.
“Externalising blame should be put on notice,” the FO said, in addition to a host of “factors responsible for exponential increase in drug production, expansion of ungoverned spaces, industrial scale corruption, breakdown of governance, and letting Daesh gain a foothold in Afghanistan.”
Pence’s statements are the harshest US warning to Pakistan since the beginning of the Afghan war more than 16 years ago and follows several recent statements, indicating US indignation with Islamabad.
The US VP visited Kabul’s Bagram airbase in a trip cloaked in secrecy, becoming the most senior Trump administration official to visit the men and women fighting America’s longest-ever war.
‘How will US address our security concerns?’
Earlier today, Foreign Affairs Secretary Tehmina Janjua said Islamabad rejected US VP Pence’s ‘rhetorical’ statements and allegations outright, and posed the question of how the US would be able to address Pakistan’s regional security concerns.
During a Senate Foreign Affairs Committee briefing on Pence’s remarks chaired by Nuzhat Sadiq, Janjua said that Islamabad and Washington are in touch regarding the US’ “unliteral action” statements.
“How can unilateral action be taken on a single source of information?” she asked.
“Pakistan has no terrorist sanctuaries,” she asserted, adding that the presence of terrorists in Afghanistan has been detrimental to Pakistan’s safety. She also accused India of using Afghan soil to destabilise Pakistan.
Rejecting Pence’s claim on the presence of terrorists on the Pakistani side of the Pak-Afghan border, Janjua said that Operation Khyber-2 had already cleansed the area of terrorists.
“However, if actionable intelligence is provided to us, Pakistan can conduct intelligence-based operations,” she added.
“The bigger question is how will the US address Pakistan’s concerns? Terrorists wanted in Pakistan are hiding away in Afghanistan and the refugee situation is also creating major problems for us.”
‘Malicious campaign against Pakistan’
The FO during a weekly press briefing on Thursday had warned against a “malicious campaign” being used to trivialise Pakistan’s achievements in the war against terrorism, days after US President Donald Trump announced a new National Security Strategy (NSS)which is tough on Pakistan.
The NSS questions Pakistan’s ability to protect its nuclear assets, asks it not to indulge destabilising behaviour in Afghanistan reminds and insist that Islamabad is obliged to help Washington in Pakistan because it receives “massive payments” every year.
FO Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal had rejected the “unfounded accusations” levelled against Islamabad by Trump, who had reminded Pakistan that it is obliged to help America because it receives “massive payments” from Washington every year.
“We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help,” said the US president.
The 56-page NSS document says that “the United States continues to face threats from transnational terrorists and militants operating from within Pakistan”.
“We will press Pakistan to intensify its counterterrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists who target a partner’s own service members and officials,” the document reads, adding: “We seek a Pakistan that is not engaged in destabilising behaviour.”
Dr Faisal had asserted that the accusations in the NSS “belie facts on ground and trivialise Pakistan’s efforts for fighting terrorism and our unmatched sacrifices to promote peace and stability in the region”.
Last week, the Pentagon had also informed Congress that it would take ‘unilateral steps’ in areas of divergence with Pakistan while expanding cooperation between the two countries where their interests converge.