ISLAMABAD: Terming it an attempt to “undermine national security”, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has lambasted Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif’s latest comments about activities of members of banned outfits in the country.

“Kh Asif’s comments of ownership of militant groups coming from a foreign minister (are) undermining Pak security. With such a FM, who needs enemies?” Mr Khan posted on his official social media page on Twitter.

Earlier, the foreign minister had to face criticism from the opposition parties over his statement in which he had stressed the need for “putting own house in order”.

The PTI chief slammed Mr Asif for what he called “targeting” the armed forces “without having any concern for sacrifices rendered by the people of Pakistan”. He alleged that the minister was doing it only to appease India and the United States.

NA panel seeks briefing by foreign secretary on govt’s new US policy

“Their continuous targeting of our armed forces continues today as part of this Indo-US appeasement. No concern for Pak lives sacrificed,” tweeted Mr Khan.

He said that “now (it is) evident that DawnLeaks was a deliberate attempt by PML-N to target Pakistan military at a time when it is fighting our enemies on multiple fronts.”

He alleged that “Sharifs and their cronies” were “desperate to appease Indo-US lobby and interests as their loot/properties all stashed away in West.”

It is interesting to note that the other major opposition party — Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — has preferred to keep silence on the matter.

When contacted, a senior leader and office-bearer of the PPP said that he personally believed that Khawaja Asif had said nothing wrong and that the PTI was making an unnecessary hue and cry. The PPP, he added, would come out with an official response, if needed, in the next few days.

Speaking at the Asia Society Forum in New York on Monday, the foreign minister had rejected claims that Pakistan fostered militant groups such as the Haqqani network, saying they had become “liabilities” for the country.

“It is very easy to say Pakistan is floating the Haqqanis and Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. They are liabilities. I accept that they are liabilities, but give us time to get rid of them because we don’t have the assets to match these liabilities and you are increasing them [our liabilities] further,” said Mr Asif, who had gone to the US to attend the 72nd regular session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Meanwhile, the opposition members in the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs also took exception to the remarks of the foreign minister and demanded that he be asked to appear before the committee to give an explanation.

The issue was raised by PTI MNA Dr Shireen Mazari.

The meeting, which had been called only to elect new chairman of the committee, later directed the foreign secretary to brief the members on the government’s new policy towards the US.

Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar was elected unopposed chairman of the committee in place of Awais Ahmed Leghari, who has been inducted into the cabinet by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Ms Mazari said that the foreign minister’s remarks mocked the sacrifices rendered by the army in its fight against terrorism, and also supported the new US policy on South Asia and its demand to “do more”.

Last month, President Donald Trump had accused Pakistan of providing “safe havens” to terrorists, evoking a strong response from both the government and the opposition.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2017

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