IN THE NEWS: ABBASI OFFERS JOINT PATROLS WITH AFGHANISTAN (SEPTEMBER 13, 2017)

Written by admin on Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Abbasi offers joint patrols with Afghanistan
SOURCE: The Nation
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

*Proposes ‘bilateral verification’ of militants’ sanctuaries
*Says Pakistan hasn’t received any demand list from Trump

ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday offered “joint patrols” and “joint posts” with Afghanistan as a means of bilateral verification of action taken against terrorist groups or their sanctuaries.

“Whatever it takes to fight terrorism … Pakistan is totally open to that,” Abbasi said while briefing foreign journalists in Islamabad.

He added that Pakistan was willing to kickstart a raft of measures to increase security along the border with Afghanistan and improve its rocky relationship with its neighbour. “We will put up a fence there, the Afghans are welcome to put up another fence on their side.”

His remarks came weeks after President Donald Trump called on Pakistan to do more to eliminate militant sanctuaries, a longstanding US demand.

“We are open for joint patrolling, we are open for joint posts” along the border with Afghanistan, Abbasi said. He denied Pakistan was harbouring militants, insisting it was “fighting agents of chaos.”

The details of the bilateral verification methods could be worked out at the operational level, he said. But Abbasi insisted Afghanistan in turn needed to do more to fight terrorism against Pakistan.

“If you want statistics, there is much more happening across the border from Afghanistan than anything that happens from Pakistan into Afghanistan.”

“All the criminal elements we are fighting are based in Afghanistan,” Abbasi said.

Responding to a question, Abbasi said his government has yet to receive any specific demands from the Trump administration, adding that Pakistan would act on any information shared by US authorities.

Abbasi said the United States has not demanded any specific actions from Pakistan since President Trump’s speech. “We have not received a list of mechanisms,” he said, adding his country would continue to cooperate against terrorism as it has done in the past.

“We don’t think the Pakistani-US relationship will be defined by Afghanistan,” the prime minister told reporters. “This relationship (is) 70 years old (and) cannot be redefined by one issue or it should not be redefined by one issue.”

“We have nothing to hide, as a general rule you do not punish allies,” Abbasi said when asked about US plans to get tough on Pakistan and cutting billions of dollars worth of military and financial aid. “We are open (with the US). We are transparent. We have nothing to hide.”

“If you go to Miranshah, you’ll see what we’ve done there, the casualties that the army has taken, the sanctuaries they’ve destroyed,” Abbasi told reporters.

Pakistan has launched several military operations to clear out militant hideouts from the northern tribal areas near Afghanistan’s border. But US and Afghanistan claim the actions have been more focused on Pakistani Taliban, militants that have challenged the Pakistani state. They charge that the groups focused on attacking Afghanistan or India have been largely left alone.

Pakistan denies those claims. “The ills of Afghanistan do not emanate from Pakistan,” said the prime minister.

Pakistan had suffered massively due to instability in Afghanistan and believed that the solution should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, he said.

Abbasi said Pakistan was more committed than any other country in the region for peaceful resolution of the Afghan issue.

The prime minister strongly rejected allegations about terrorists’ sanctuaries inside Pakistan and said the North Waziristan shared the same terrain with the border areas of Afghanistan but questioned what the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had achieved there.

He said the leadership [of militants] was based in Afghanistan.

He said that Pakistan had hosted 3.5 million Afghan refugees. “We have even offered training to the Afghan forces to come here and train themselves to fight terrorism,” he added. He said his government’s mandate was to complete the initiatives taken by Nawaz Sharif.

To another question, the prime minister opined that democratic system in the country was being strengthened with the passage of time.

The prime minister strongly rejected that democracy could be derailed in the country and said the intensity and relevancy regarding debate about the system could increase but ultimately, it would be resolved.

About the BRICS declaration, the prime minister said the statement was not specific to Pakistan. There was no difference in the policy of Pakistani and Chinese governments, he added.

About going back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said the government had successfully completed the IMF programme with minimal inflation.

The prime minister did not foresee to go to the IMF and hoped that the government would achieve its economic targets with prudent economic policies.

He said the biggest achievement of the present government was to minimise inflation rate. He said the government would be able to address the economic challenges and its intention was to proceed with its own growth rate.

Challenges were always there but the government was addressing the same, the prime minister said, adding the stock exchange would hopefully go up in the coming days.

He said the current economic issues were definitely a challenge but “we are addressing it.”

The prime minister said the devaluation of rupee was not on the card. “We are broadening our tax net base and have a composite plan to provide incentives to the tax filers.”

To a question about ups and downs in the Pak-US relations, he said there was economic, political and military relationship between the two countries.

He said the US had not clarified some of the perceptions that were raised after President Trump’s policy statement on Afghanistan and South Asia.

He said that Pakistan needed more collaborations and cooperation between the two countries in various areas rather than aid and assistance.

He added that Pakistan was a huge market and the US companies had multi-billion opportunities here. Abbasi said Pakistan and the US had a very valuable relationship since start of the diplomatic ties between the two countries.

“We intend to work and cooperate with the US against terrorism and if both the countries have any concern it should be addressed,” he said. “We respect other’s sovereignty and expect the same from others.”

About Pakistan-India tension at the Line of Control, he said Pakistan had always welcomed efforts to have a peaceful relationship and wanted to resolve it peacefully through dialogue.

He said Pakistan had lost more than $120 billion in the war against terrorism, besides the world community must recognise its sacrifices.

 

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