WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s outgoing ambassador to the US, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry has said that no country can accuse Pakistan of not taking action against terrorists.
Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry in an interview to the VOA said that Pakistan is the one country in the region that has done the most against terrorism. “Al-Qaida, if you don’t hear about it today, it is because Pakistan and the US were cooperating. Al-Qaida is the organization that caused 9/11, and therefore we think that no country can tell us that Pakistan has not done enough. In fact, Pakistan has done the most,” Chaudhry said.
He said that last year, while announcing his new South Asia strategy, US President Donald Trump put Pakistan on notice for failing to do more against terror safe havens in the county.
The very first tweet this year from the US president was about Pakistan, he added.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” Trump tweeted.
Chaudhry said the allegations that there are safe havens in Pakistan or that the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is based there are myths.
“It is a myth to say that there are any Shuras in Pakistan, Karachi Shura, Quetta Shura and all these things,” Chaudhry said.
“We’ve said time and again that there are no safe havens in Pakistan. Forty-four percent of the territory of Afghanistan is available, according to US reports, and 70 percent, according to a BBC report, is available to militants of that huge country.”
However, General Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in February that Pakistan has yet to take any decisive action against the militants, including the Haqqani network.
“Pakistan is squeezing space on Haqqanis and the Taliban. Our message to them is very clear, ‘you’re Afghans and you should give up violence and go to Afghanistan to join the political mainstream,’” Chaudhry said.
“But to hold Pakistan responsible for a lack of success in Afghanistan is not a fair treatment,” he added.
Chaudhry asserted that following several military operations, the region has been cleared of militants.
“Violence and terrorism under any pretext is not acceptable. That’s where our military forces moved into the tribal areas, especially North Waziristan where these people had created hideouts, safe havens, IED [improvised explosive devices] factories, training camps and whatever else, and two, three years later, we were able to clean up the whole place and secure every inch of that territory,” he said.
Chaudhry downplayed those accusations and seemed to suggest the PTM movement has been hijacked by outsiders.
“I think people are exaggerating because they have their own axe to grind, otherwise there are talks going on with them [PTM] by the authorities and the matter is also in the courts,” he said.
“Within Pakistan, Pashtuns are very committed Pakistanis, and they have made enormous contributions to the people of Pakistan,” he added.
Chaudhry said Hafiz Saeed’s case is legal and India has failed to present evidence against him.
Pakistan’s relations with the US have deteriorated in recent years, and just recently, relations between the two countries plummeted to a new low when Washington issued a directive requiring Pakistani diplomats to seek permission five days in advance before travelling more than 40 kilometres outside their posts in the US
Nonetheless, Chaudhry seems optimistic about relations between the two nations.
“The point that I’m making is – it’s a resilient relationship and if it is passing through a bad patch today, it will come right back to normal just like it has come back in the past,” he said.