KHAWAJA Asif says Pakistan will not allow the Afghan war to be fought on its soil.
KHAWAJA Asif says Pakistan will not allow the Afghan war to be fought on its soil.

KARACHI: Foreign Minis­ter Khawaja Asif has said that Pakistan does not have an alliance with the United States.

“We do not have any alliance,” the minister said during an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

“This is not how allies behave,” he said when talking about the decision of President Donald Trump’s administration to suspend its entire security assistance to Pakistan.

Terms Islamabad’s decision to join US campaign in Afghanistan ‘huge mistake’

The suspension of security assistance for Pakistan — announced last week — came as the Trump administration sought more cooperation against militants from Islamabad as part of its strategy in Afghanistan.

While announcing the decision, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the suspension would remain in effect until Pakistan “takes decisive action” against militant groups such as the Taliban that were “destabilising the region and targeting US personnel”.

During the interview, the foreign minister said that Pakistan made a “huge mistake” when it agreed to join the US campaign in Afghanistan that was launched in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Mr Asif said the move had led to a severe terrorist backlash against Pakistan.

He was of the opinion that Washington had turned Islamabad into a “whipping boy” for its failures in Afghanistan.

Speaking about the successes achieved by Pakistan in the counterterrorism operations launched in recent years, the minister said that Islamabad would not allow the Afghan war to be fought on Pakistan’s soil.

“We have relative calm in Pakistan at the moment,” he said. “But if we go against these people [Afghan insurgents], then the war will again be fought on our soil, which will suit the Americans.”

In the new year, Washington has ramped up pressure on Islamabad to “do more” in the fight against terrorism. The US has stated that suspension of military aid, which came after President Trump accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit”, is part of America’s South Asia strategy.

In Pakistan, the move has been seen as the first step to implementing Trump’s pledge to tighten economic restrictions on Islamabad.

Despite the tension, however, the US and Pakistani officials have remained in contact with each other.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis said on Friday that the Pentagon was maintaining its communication with the Pakistani military establishment even after the suspension of military assistance.

Foreign Secretary Teh­mina Janjua has said that Pakistan will continue to engage with Washington as far as possible, because America is not only a global power but also has a regional presence, and “for us it’s almost our neighbour”.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2018