Don’t blame Pakistan, Haqqanis were your ‘darlings’ until a few years ago: Asif tells US

Don’t blame Pakistan, Haqqanis were your ‘darlings’ until a few years ago: Asif tells US

Pakistan refuses to take the blame for the Haqqani Network and other alleged militant outfits, reminding the United States that these terrorists were considered as "darlings” by the White House up until a few years ago.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif , who is attending the 72nd session of UN General Assembly, said this at the Asia Society forum on Tuesday.

"Don’t blame us for Haqqanis [the Haqqani Network] or don’t blame us for the Hafiz Saeeds [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.”

Further clarifying the position of Islamabad, Asif said, "It is very easy to say Pakistan is floating Haqqanis and Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. They are liabilities. I accept, they are liabilities but give us time to get rid of these liabilities because we don’t have assets to match these liabilities and you are increasing the them further.”

He said that Pakistan is ready to work with the United States for effective management of the Afghan border to stop terrorist infiltration and to facilitate a peace settlement in Afghanistan.

He stressed that there was no military solution to the festering conflict in that country. “Scapegoating Pakistan for all the Afghan ills is neither fair nor accurate,” Asif said.

“This will only help forces that we are trying to fight collectively,” he remarked.

Pakistan, he said, had in the past done all it could to facilitate a political settlement in Afghanistan, making sure that Pakistani soil was not used against any country.

In his opening remarks, Khawaja Asif also covered Pakistan’s relations with India, the Kashmir dispute, counter-terrorism measures and the country’s economic progress.

Asif said Pakistan has a “larger stake” in seeing the return of peace and stability in Afghanistan than any other country, having suffered grievously from the conflict and instability across the border.

“We are mindful of the strong desire in the US to bring the ‘long war’ in Afghanistan to an end,” the minister said. “We support this objective wholeheartedly and are ready to help in any way we could to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he offered.

He, however, made it clear that there were obviously clear limits to what Pakistan could do.

“We cannot take responsibility for Afghanistan’s peace and security and be asked to achieve what the combined strength of some of the most powerful and richest countries could not accomplish,” he told the audience.

“Effective border management frankly is the key,” the minister said, adding, “More needs to be done on the Afghan side of the border where terrorist elements are finding easy safe havens.”

“We are keen to work with the US in effectively managing the Afghan border and in facilitating a peace process to the extent we can.”

He went on to say, “The emergence of new threats including (Da’esh) demands ever greater coordination and stronger partnerships between like-minded countries to put up a united front to counter these dark forces of exclusion and extremism.”

Talking about the sour relations with India, he said that a new initiative was needed to bring India and Pakistan to the negotiating table. He stressed the need to discuss all the issues, including the decades-old Kashmir dispute, the main source of tension between the two countries.

Peace in the neighbourhood was impossible to achieve unless relations with India improved, he said. Pakistan reached out to India to seek normalisation of relations and resolution of all disputes through dialogue and engagement, but India did not reciprocate, he said.

“The unprovoked violations on the LoC [Line of Control in Kashmir] and the working boundary, escalating political rhetoric, excessive use of force against unarmed civilians in the occupied Kashmir and harassment of minorities, particularly Muslims in India, do not bode well for peace, reconciliation and dialogue in South Asia,” highlighted the minister.

Pakistan is ready to work with India to seek peaceful resolution of all disputes and to create an environment of peace and stability allowing the people of the two countries to realise their aspirations of prosperity and development, he said.

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