WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif remarked that Pakistan feels there is trust deficit in its relations with the United States while speaking at the United States Institute of Peace on Thursday.
“Yes, there is a trust deficit,” he remarked.
While in conversation with Moeed Yusuf, director of South Asia programmes at USIP, Asif said that “we are living in hell” because of the decision to participate in the US fight against the Soviet Union.
While US soldiers went back chest thumping that they have defeated the Soviet Union, no one cared about what happened to Pakistan,” said the minister who is known for his candour.
He remarked, about 3.5 million refugees are living in Pakistan. “We have every kind of friction, religious, ethnic, political intolerance. This is the baggage we carry from the 80s.”
Over the Vegas shooting, he said that Pakistan is deeply saddened by the incident. He stressed that it should be called an act of terror. “Why call it shooting, call it terrorism.This is terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”
He added, “these contradictions will be counterproductive.”
He also said that “Pakistan only victor in the war against terrorism” as the country faced the threat head-on.
“Since 2014, we have wiped them [terrorists] out,” he said stressing that “our achievements are better than any other country’s.” It occurred due to the commitment of the 200,000 soldiers we have.
“We don’t want any material help from US, all we want is respect.”
While addressing the USIP, he had said that Pakistan is hoping for peace in Afghanistan.
“Ensuring security in Afghanistan is critical for the [South Asian] region,” he remarked, adding “we will be the biggest beneficiary of peace in Afghanistan.”
“Burden of a 16-year-long war in Afghanistan has passed to new Afghanistan,” he said, adding “for Pakistan the timeline of managing the fallout of Afghanistan instability is 30 years and still counting. This is more than half of our life as an independent country.”
It is the responsibility of all parties to initiate a political process, he said, adding that Pakistan seeks “productive relations” with Afghanistan which include the elimination of safe havens in Afghanistan and border management.
Pakistan feels that US and Pakistan must actively work towards peace in South Asia, he added.
Thanking USIP for the invitation, he remarked that the current world is full of “chronic challenges” such as long wars, climate change and, rising intolerance and extremism along with global menace of terrorism, which claims hundreds of lives every year.
“I am honoured to represent a country that is overcoming challenges of disarray and wishes to build a partnership for a secure and prosperous future,” he said, adding that “terrorism is being rigorously battled” in the country.
He also said that Pakistan requires a recognition, by both Pakistan and US, of each other’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism. “We will continue to work for peace and stability.”
Asif also spoke about the plight of people in Kashmir during his address. “Kashmiris have faced all forms and manifestations of state-sponsored terrorism.”
Pakistan critical for long-term stability of South Asia
Asif, who is currently visiting Washington for a three-day tour, met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday.
Addressing the media after the meeting, Tillerson remarked that Pakistan is critical for the long-term stability of South Asia.
“Not just Afghanistan, but it is the importance of Pakistan and Pakistan’s long-term stability as well,” he remarked while speaking about US’s policy towards South Asia.
“We want Pakistan’s government to be stable, peaceful.. many of the same issues they are struggling inside Pakistan are our issues. So we think there is an opportunity to strengthen that relationship.”
Pakistan’s relation with the US is “extraordinarily important”, he said.