Pakistan suspends talks with US

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif on Monday said that Pakistan has suspended talks and bilateral visits with the United States as a mark of protest.

US Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells was supposed to arrive in Islamabad on Tuesday, while the Pakistan foreign minister was to travel to the US last week under the previous schedule.

Meanwhile, Pakistan parliamentarians have discussed thoroughly to suggest a policy guideline for the government in response to the new US policy on Afghanistan, The Express Tribune reported.

“As an immediate reaction, he postponed his first visit to Washington as foreign minister last week,” a source quoted Asif, as saying.

Similarly, US acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Alice Well’s tour had also been postponed, Asif added.

However, Pakistan has not dismissed bilateral visits or talks officially; postponement of the two high-profile visits is being viewed as a significant development.

About the recently unveiled policy of the US president on South Asia, Mr Asif said it envisaged no military role for India in Afghanistan. According to the sources, the minister said it was rather a role of economic development. He claimed during the in-camera session of the Pakistan National Assembly committee that India would not be allowed to use Afghan soil to destabilise Pakistan.

According to the media reports, the remarks were surprising for many as they believed that India was already using Afghan territory for subversive activities in Pakistan.

The media reported that the members raised questions as to what would be the mechanism to check if the enhanced Indian presence was not abused to foment terrorism in Pakistan. They also sought to know details of the unusual number of Indian consulates in Afghanistan, which it is said was more than those it had in the US.

The members also asked the government to share a fact-sheet on US assistance received after 9/11, the reimbursed amount of coalition support fund (CSF) and the financial loss incurred by the country as a frontline state against the war on terror.

Pertinently, Pakistan is also convening an international conference to highlight its contribution towards the war against terrorism and to adopt a new policy which will call a halt to Washington’s unending demand to ‘do more’ on the issue.

While rolling out the new Afghan Policy, Trump had said, “People in Pakistan have suffered from terror, but at same time Pakistan has been safe haven for terrorists.”

According to the reports, Islamabad is trying to mount a diplomatic offensive to muster support of friendly countries in the face of Trump’s allegations that Pakistan was hosting terrorist ‘safe havens’ on its soil.

However, the Pakistan government would soon hold consultations before announcing the schedule of the conference, reports added.

Earlier, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership on Thursday said scapegoating them will not help stabilise the war-ravaged Afghanistan.



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