Pakistan ‘sought evidence from US against Haqqanis, offered joint operation’

Pakistan offered United States a joint operation against the Haqqani network if it was provided evidence of the militant group’s safe havens in the country.

US President Donald Trump, while unveiling his strategy for Afghanistan in August, pilloried Pakistan for harbouring “agents of chaos” and the “very enemy US forces have fighting in Afghanistan” for the past 17 years.

US and Afghan officials have accused Pakistan of sheltering the Haqqani network – the deadliest of all the Afghan Taliban factions.

“We have offered American authorities to visit Pakistan with evidence of Haqqani network’s safe havens in the country. If they find any activity [of Haqqanis] in the targeted areas, our troops along with the US would destroy them once and for all,” Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told a Pakistani news channel.

The foreign minister, who recently toured Washington and met top Trump administration officials, went on to say that army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had made the same offer to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during his Kabul visit earlier this month, according to The Express Tribune.

Referring to unsavoury criticism from the United States, Asif said, “If the Trump administration exerts more pressure on us, friendly countries, especially China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, will stand by our side.”

He further added that “If the US secretary of state and secretary of defence are coming to dictate us, we will refuse to accept their dictates…and now we will do what is in the best interest of our country.”

Last week, AFP reported that President Trump will dispatch Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis to Pakistan in the coming weeks on a visit designed to drill home the message that Pakistani state support for jihadi groups has to end.

(Image: A 2001 picture of Haqqani network leader Jalaluddin, believed to have died in 2014)

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