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‘Pakistan’s support saved US billions of dollars,’ Washington told

WASHINGTON: Referring to the criticism Pakistan has faced in US circles, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi described it as unfair and said that Pakistan’s contribution to the success of the US in Afghanistan has not be recognized.

He said Pakistan’s support saved the US billions of dollars.

Describing his meetings with top officials from the Trump administration as “engaging and forward looking”, Qureshi said that Pakistan and the United States need to bridge the trust deficit and build on their history of cooperation for achieving shared objectives, including peace and stability in war-torn Afghanistan.

“I am going back with positive view of hope and change,” he said while speaking at an event in Washington. “Individually, we might not be able to achieve what we want to. Collectively, in my opinion, we can.”

Qureshi described his meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton as engaging and forward looking and said the two countries need to build on their history of cooperation.

“We have to trust each other,” the Minister said, adding that history is witnessed to the fact that both countries benefitted when they worked together, be it Cold War, Soviet invasion or decimation of al-Qaida.

The Minister said that there had been highs and lows in bilateral relations and the past two years had been difficult, but the two countries have to rebuild and improve relations to achieve collective objectives of peace, reconciliation and stability.

The Minister said that over 500,000 US containers went through Pakistan to Afghanistan over the years and were treated as diplomatic cargos.

Minister Qureshi said that it was unfair to blame Pakistan for all the difficulties in Afghanistan, adding that Pakistan could not and should not be held responsible for failure in Afghanistan. He said that Afghanistan had its own problems, which contributed to the situation there.

Collectively we can achieve shared objectives. Blame game will not be productive.”

While, there are allegations of safe havens in Pakistan, the minister said there were safe havens across the border in Afghanistan which was of concern to Islamabad. Citing reports about 87 percent increase in narcotics in Afghanistan, he said that was an issue of concern to Pakistan.

The minister invited US Congressmen to come to Pakistan and visit areas of their choice in the Tribal belt to see for themselves the change that has been made possible by the country’s relentless fight against terrorism.

He offered the US lawmakers to pick areas where they want to go and the government will facilitate their visit to see if there were any safe havens there. “It is important if they go and see and form an opinion,” he added.

The minister said that there were still 2.7 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and the government believes that their return in a time-bound manner will contribute to peace and stability in Pakistan.

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