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Washington should not blame Pakistan for its failiure in Afghanistan: FO

23 December, 2017

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ISLAMABAD/KABUL: Hours after US Vice-President Mike Pence’s warning that the Trump administration has ‘put Pakistan on notice’ for ‘harbouring’ terrorists, Islamabad on Friday told Washington to create peace and reconciliation mechanisms instead of shifting blame onto Pakistan for its own failures in Afghanistan.

“Externalising blame should be put on notice, in addition to a host of factors responsible for exponential increase in drug production, expansion of ungoverned spaces, industrial scale corruption, breakdown of governance and letting Daesh gain a foothold in Afghanistan,” Foreign Office spokesperson.

Making an unannounced trip to Afghanistan, US Vice President Mike Pence alleged Pakistan had provided safe haven to the Taliban and other groups for too long. “Those days are over,” he said, and added, “Pakistan had much to gain from partnering with the United States and much to lose by harbouring criminals and terrorists.”

This is so far the harshest US warning to Pakistan since the beginning of the Afghan war more than 16 years ago and follows several recent statements, indicating US indignation with Islamabad.

The Foreign Office lashed out at the US, claiming that the statement by Pence diverged from recent conversations between officials of both countries. “Allies do not put each other on notice,” the FO statement said, noting that Pence’s scathing remarks were “at variance with the extensive conversations we [Islamabad] have had with the US administration.”

Speaking to American troops at Bagram Airbase, Pence reiterated word for word President Donald Trump’s warning that Pakistan must stop offering cross-border safe havens to Taliban factions and armed militant groups fighting US troops and their Afghan allies.

The US VP visited Kabul’s Bagram airbase in a trip cloaked in secrecy, becoming the most senior Trump administration official to visit the men and women fighting America’s longest-ever war. Pence then flew by helicopter to Kabul, where he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

Afghan Presidential Palace said that Pence in his meeting with President Ghani ‘reaffirmed that the US will continue and further enhance its support to the government and people of Afghanistan.”

“He commended the performance of the Afghan national defense and security forces and acknowledged the progress of national unity government to counter corruption, promote effective governance, further the peace process and pursue regional cooperation,” a statement posted on the president’s website said.

On his part, President Ghani commended the continued support of US for the people and government of Afghanistan. The two sides stressed that 2017 has been a year full of achievements in terms of developing the security and defense sectors as well as focus on counter-narcotics efforts, the statement said.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua rejected Pence’s ‘rhetorical’ statements and allegations outright and posed the question as to how the US would be able to address Pakistan’s regional security concerns.

During a Senate Foreign Affairs Committee briefing, Janjua said that Islamabad and Washington were in touch regarding the ‘unilateral action’ statements by the US. “But, how can unilateral action be taken on a single source of information?” she asked.

“Pakistan has no terrorist sanctuaries,” she asserted, adding that the presence of terrorists in Afghanistan has been detrimental to Pakistan’s safety. She also accused India of using Afghan soil to destabilise Pakistan.

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