The United States considered the Haqqani Network and other militant outfits as “darlings” until a few decades ago and invited them to White House dinners, Pakistan has said while responding to Washington’s criticism that Islamabad was “harboring terrorist groups.”
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif , who is attending the 72nd session of UN General Assembly, said this at a seminar in New York on Tuesday, according to Pakistani media.
“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,” he said in an apparent reference to America’s backing of Afghan jihad against the erstwhile Soviet Union.
In a scathing attack on Pakistan last month, US President Donald Trump had accused the country of harbouring “agents of chaos” and providing “safe havens” to militant groups waging an insurgency against the US-backed government in Kabul.
Asif said it was 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.
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.
“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 said.
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.
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.
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,” the minister said.
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.