Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is yet to respond to Donald Trump’s remarks. Trump had come down heavily on Pakistan for its support to terrorist groups, saying it receives billions of dollars in US aid but continues to shelter terrorists. AP/PTI Related News
Days after US President Donald Trump chastised Pakistan for providing safe haven to terror groups on its soil, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, along with powerful Pakistani generals, is formulating a suitable response to the new US policy on Afghanistan, which includes putting greater pressure on Islamabad to do more to rein in militants. Some US lawmakers have rallied behind Trump’s call for stiffer action against Pakistan, including stringent measures like losing the major non-NATO ally status to the nuclear-powered country, cut in military aid among others. Donald Trump had come down heavily on Pakistan for its support to terrorist groups, saying it receives billions of dollars in US aid but continues to shelter terrorists.
Although Abbasi hasn’t yet responded to Trump’s statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif has told Washington that it should not use the country as a ‘scapegoat’ for America’s failure in Afghanistan’s 16-year-long war. Pakistan has categorically denied harbouring militants.
US must respect Pak’s sovereignty, security concerns: China
Amid all the flak from Washington, Pakistan’s close ally, China, came to its rescue on Thursday saying US should recognise Pakistan’s ‘important role’ in Afghanistan and respect its security concerns. China’s State Councillor Yang Jiechi defended Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan in a telephone discussion with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “We should attach importance to Pakistan’s important role in Afghanistan and respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and legitimate security concerns,” Yang said.
Adding to Yang’s remarks expressing full backing for Pakistan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media that China “valued Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan issue and respect Pakistan’s sovereign and reasonable security concerns”. “(On the) President Trump’s remarks on Pakistan, I should say that Pakistan is in the frontline of fighting terrorism, made sacrifices to fighting terrorism, making important contribution to upholding peace and stability,” Hua had said on Tuesday.
Hua also highlighted the importance of China-Pakistan friendship saying the two countries are all-weather friends and partners. “We have always given to each other support to our core issues and interests,” she said. Citing the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Hua lauded Pakistan’s support to the USD 50 billion project. India has protested on various forums against the CPEC. “Against the current backdrop, we appreciate Pakistani efforts in ensuring security as well as anti-terrorism cooperation in the CPEC,” she said.
Will ask nations that harbour terrorists to eliminate them: US
In an apparent message to Pakistan, a top Trump administration official said today that US will ask nations that harbour terror networks to eliminate them and will target terrorists in their sanctuaries. “We will demand that nations ultimately provide for their own security. Those that harbour terrorist networks must eliminate them,” Lt Gen (Retd) Keith Kellogg, Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff of the National Security Council, wrote in an op-ed to Breitbart News.
Although the op-ed did not mention any country, Kellogg’s reference seemed obviously directed at Pakistan.
US lawmakers welcome Trump’s strategy to exert pressure on Pakistan
An influential group of US lawmakers have welcomed US President Donald Trump’s new South Asia strategy which holds Pakistan accountable for its actions and continued presence of terrorist safe havens. “We appreciate the President’s renewed pressure on Pakistan to cooperate in the fight against terrorists, and hold Pakistan to account for supporting extremists. The President made it clear that we are not into nation building, but focused on protecting our citizens from terrorism,”
Senator John Hoeven said.
(With PTI inputs)
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