WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Friday said that Pakistan will continue to play its positive role in bringing peace to the region, but called for recognizing its legitimate security concerns in the wake of the new South Asia strategy announced by US President Trump.
In his opening remarks to the US and international media here in Washington, the Minister said that after the announcement of this South Asia Strategy, the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the US have taken a new turn.
“If on one hand, US has its concerns about the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan seeks recognition of its legitimate security concerns in the region,” the Minister said, who is on a visit here at the invitation of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Minister Asif said that Pakistan was genuinely concerned with regard to the role accorded in the Strategy to India in general and its efforts geared to destabilization in Balochistan, in particular.
Kh. Asif reiterated that Pakistan would continue to play its positive role in bringing peace to the region through measures agreed upon by all relevant stakeholders. ”We believe that a political approach characterized by an Afghan owned and Afghan led process will yield durable peace in the interest of Afghanistan and the broader region,” he added.
The Foreign Minister said that his visit was a follow up trip to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during which he met with Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of UNGA on September 19, 2017. Meeting with Secretary Tillerson was an important interaction after President Trump announced US South Asia Strategy in August, he added.
The Minister said that Pakistan greatly valued its relationship with the US in seven-decade long history of result oriented cooperation and we want to build a relationship founded on mutual respect.
“We firmly believe that through consistent, structured and constructive engagement, at political and diplomatic levels, both the countries can continue to work together for the common goal of peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia,” he added.
He also underlined enormous investment and business opportunities in Pakistan for corporate America, particularly after Pakistan’s remarkable successes in war against terror and significant reduction in terrorist incidents in the country.
However, he added that Pakistan believed that unless there was stability in Afghanistan, the dividends of peace in the region would continue to elude us. “To achieve that goal both US and Pakistan need to work closely,” he added.
The Minister also stated that Pakistan has completely wiped out all the hideouts used by terrorists and anti-state elements, but this was an ongoing process with continuing intelligence based operations by law enforcement agencies across the country.
He told the media-persons that Pakistan has offered candid cooperation to Afghanistan during the recent visit of the Army Chief and the Foreign Secretary to Kabul, where they had successful and productive meetings with President Ashraf Ghani, the CEO Abdullah and others in the Afghan hierarchy.
The Minister said that Pakistan was extremely concerned about safe havens of terrorists who are mostly operating from ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan which are more than 40% of the total area of the country. A number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan in recent months have been traced back to these elements operating from these bases in Afghanistan, he added.