Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has dismissed as “hollow allegations” claims by a number of US officials about his country’s collusion with terrorist groups wreaking havoc in neighboring Afghanistan.
Washington has long been chiding Islamabad for not doing enough to curb militant groups like the Taliban.
“You want us to sniff them out, we will do that. You want us to take action against them, whatever action you propose, we will do that… [but] these hollow allegations are not acceptable,” Asif told reporters on Thursday.
The top Pakistani diplomat made the remarks on the second day of his three-day visit to Washington, DC, which is aimed at mending frayed ties following US President Donald Trump’s introduction of his Afghanistan policy.
The new Republican president denounced the Pakistani government for offering safe haven to “agents of chaos” in a speech in April, when he revealed Washington’s plans for a prolonged military presence in Afghanistan by sending 3,000 more troops to the country.
Doubling down on Trump’s harsh views, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said earlier this week that Washington would try “one more time” to work with Pakistan to address the issue before Trump would “take whatever steps are necessary” to change Islamabad’s behavior.
Pushing the envelope even further, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate had maintained relations with “terrorist groups.”
What angered Asif the most, however, were remarks by the Senate panel’s chairman, Arizona Senator John McCain, who said support and sanctuary for certain terrorist groups has been a “feature of” Pakistan’s national security policy for decades.
Asif said McCain was “playing to his constituents.”
“We are not saying we are saints. Perhaps in the past, we made some mistakes. But since the last three, four years, we are wholeheartedly, single mindedly, we are targeting these terrorists,” he added.
According to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), a Washington DC-based think-tank, US policymakers have been exploring a range of options to adopt a more aggressive approach against Pakistan.
Reducing military aid, increasing unilateral drone activity, and revoking Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally were some of the cards that Washington was likely to play, according to the USIP.
– Press TV
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