Pakistan

Asif says Pakistan wants good ties with all its neighbours

Khawaja Asif

ISLAMABAD: A three-day conference of Pakistani diplomats has begun in Islamabad on Tuesday to review Pakistan’s foreign policy in the wake of latest developments, including the tense diplomatic ties with the United States in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s Afghan strategy and criticism of Pakistan for allegedly housing terrorists.

According to details, Pakistan’s envoys at the United Nations, United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Afghanistan, Iran and India are participating in the conference to discuss the foreign policy in the light of current geopolitical and regional situation. Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif inaugurated the conference.

Addressing the inaugural session, the foreign minister said Pakistan wanted good relations with all its neighbouring countries. Peace and stability in Afghanistan was in the best interest of Pakistan, he added.

He reiterated Pakistan will continue to extend moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris fighting for their right to self-determination.

The concluding session of the conference would be chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

The conference comes amid growing diplomatic tensions between Pakistan and the US in the wake of blistering criticism by President Donald Trump for “housing the very terrorists Americans are fighting in Afghanistan.”

Subsequently, Pakistan suspended talks with the US and deferred a visit by US acting Assistant Secretary of State in protest.

The visit of Alice Wells – acting assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and Asian Affairs – was scheduled for Aug 28 and it would have been the first high-profile visit by a US official since Trump’s Afghan policy announced in a televised speech on August 21.

However, it would have been Wells second visit to Islamabad in a month.

“At the request of the Government of Pakistan, Acting Assistant Secretary Wells’ trip has been postponed until a mutually convenient time,” a U.S. Embassy spokesperson told an international news agency in Islamabad.

Subsequently, Pakistan’s foreign ministry released a statement echoing similar views.

In a firm rebuttal to Trump’s claims that Pakistan had harboured “agents of chaos”, the country’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement asserting its commitment to fighting terrorism.

“No country in the world has suffered more than Pakistan from the scourge of terrorism, often perpetrated from outside our borders. It is, therefore disappointing that the US policy statement ignores the enormous sacrifices rendered by the Pakistani nation in this effort,” it said.

Trump dramatically increased the pressure on Pakistan during a much anticipated national address on Monday in which he laid out a new strategy on the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan.

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