Alliance with US over: Pak FM We fought war on terror on own resources: FO

The US failed to behave as an ally and turned Islamabad into a “whipping boy” for its own shortcomings in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s foreign minister Khwaja Asif said, after the Trump administration suspended security-related aid to the country.
“We do not have any alliance with the United States,” Asif told Wall Street Journal in an interview today.
“This is not how allies behave,” he said.
Asif said Pakistan’s recent counter-terrorism operations—including those in the tribal areas that border Afghanistan—has cleared the country of both the organized presence of militants and areas where they might seek sanctuary as peace returns.
“But Taliban fighters still slip through and meld into its large Afghan refugee population,” he said.
There are 1.4 million such refugees currently living in Pakistan, according to the United Nations.
“We have relative calm in Pakistan at the moment. But if we go against these people [Afghan insurgents], then the war will again be fought on our soil, which will suit the Americans,” Asif said.
After Pakistan joined the US war on terror in 2001, some jihadist groups turned on Islamabad—a campaign of violence that has taken thousands of lives. Deaths from domestic terror attacks have declined over the past few years, after Pakistan launched anti-terror operations.
Asif said a lack of cooperation from Washington and Kabul on both returning refugees to Afghanistan and fencing the border between the two countries raises the suspicion that the intent to fight terror together is not sincere.
He said there are other countries that could ally with Pakistan.
Last year, he rallied officials from China, Iran, Russia and Turkey behind Pakistan’s strategy for Afghanistan, a process centered on peace talks with the Taliban.
Following Trump’s tweet against Pakistan this week, China foreign ministry said it was “ready to promote and deepen” its cooperation with Pakistan.
“We are not alone,” Asif said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Office today said it is engaged with America on the issue of security cooperation.
“The impact of the US’ decision on pursuit of common objectives is also likely to emerge more clearly in due course of time,” Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) said while reacting to suspension of aid announcement.
Pakistan, it said, believes that its cooperation with the US in fighting terrorism directly serves America’s national security interests as well as the larger interests of international community, as it helped decimate Al-Qaeda and fight other groups who took advantage of ungoverned spaces, a long porous border and posed a common threat to peace.
Through a series of major counter-terrorism operations, Pakistan cleared all these areas resulting in elimination of organised terrorist presence leading to significant improvement in security in Pakistan, it said.
The FO also said that working towards enduring peace requires mutual respect and trust along with patience and persistence.
Highlighting the new threat of Daesh (IS), Pakistan said “emergence of new and more deadly groups such as Daesh in Afghanistan call for enhancing international cooperation.”
“Arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goalposts are counterproductive in addressing common threats”.
Asserting that Pakistan fought the war against terrorism largely from its own resources which has cost over USD 120 billion in 15 years, the FO said, “We are determined to continue to do all it takes to secure the lives of our citizens and broader stability in the region”. (Additional inputs from PTI)