Top security body shows disappointment over recent statements of American leaders
Says Trump’s ‘incomprehensible’ accusations contradict facts, reiterates support for US-led int’l effort in Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD: The National Security Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, on Tuesday reviewed the emerging strategic situation in the region and beyond and noted its deep disappointment with some of the recent statements articulated by the American leadership.
The committee, in its seventeenth meeting, observed that the close interaction with the US leadership following the initial pronouncement of President Donald Trump’s policy on South Asia had been useful in creating a better understanding of each other’s perspectives on the best way forward to achieve durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Defence Khurram Dastgir, Minister for Interior Affairs Ahsan Iqbal, National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua, Adviser on Finance and Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail, Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and senior civil officials attended the meeting.
Joint Chief of Staff Committee (JCSC) Chairman General Zubair Mehmood Hayat, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman and senior military officials also attended the meeting.
The visits of US State Secretary Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis were also seen by the committee as robust and forward-looking. Given this positive direction, recent statements by the American leadership were completely incomprehensible as they contradicted facts manifestly, struck with great insensitivity at the trust built over generations between the two nations and negated the decades of sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation, the meeting observed.
“Pakistanis are a nation that has contributed so significantly to regional and global security and peace,” they said. The participants noted that over the past several years, Pakistan’s counter-terrorism campaign has served as a bulwark against the possible expansion of scores of terrorist outfits currently present in Afghanistan – a fact acknowledged by the US authorities at the highest levels.
Most of these terrorists have repeatedly launched cross-border attacks against innocent Pakistanis with impunity by exploiting the presence of millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, a porous Pak-Afghan border and large tracts of ungoverned spaces inside Afghanistan.
The committee observed that Pakistan has fought the war against terrorism primarily out of its own resources and at a great cost to its economy, and that even more importantly the huge sacrifices made by Pakistan, including the loss of tens of thousands of lives of civilians and security personnel, and the pain of their families, could not be trivialised so heartlessly by pushing all of it behind a monetary value – and that too an imagined one.
The committee observed that even today Pakistan was firmly supporting the US-led international effort in Afghanistan. It was continuously facilitating this through vital lines of communications for smooth counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan by the international coalition; as a result of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism cooperation, al-Qaeda had been decimated from the region; and that it was mostly because of this support that Pakistan was suffering a brutal backlash, including the killing of hundreds of its schoolchildren by terrorists based in Afghanistan.
The committee was of the firm view that the real challenges in Afghanistan were political infighting, massive corruption, phenomenal growth of drug production and expansion of ungoverned spaces inside Afghanistan full of sanctuaries for multiple terrorist organisations, posing a serious and direct threat to Afghanistan, its neighbours and the entire region.
They observed that Pakistan cannot be held responsible for the collective failure in Afghanistan and that blaming allies certainly does not serve the shared objective of achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region.
They reached a consensus that despite all unwarranted allegations, Pakistan cannot act in haste and would remain committed to playing a constructive role towards an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, not just for the sake of its own people, but also for the peace and security of the region and international community.
The committee reaffirmed that Pakistanis were a people who hold dear their national pride, who were capable of defending their country, and who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to counter-terrorism and to work for regional peace and stability.