Pakistanâ€™s Minister for Defence Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan said that intelligence and defence cooperation with the United States (US) had been suspended and it was high time for Pakistan to have ‘ruthlessly candid dialogue’ with the US with everything on the table.
On Tuesday (Jan 9), he was speaking at a pubic talk entitled “Contours of Security Environment in Pakistan” organised here at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). Khurram Dastgir said that US, in spite of spending billions of dollars and getting its soldiers killed, could not win the Afghan war as it had only managed to control 40 percent of Afghanistan during the last 15 years.
“America needs to deal with that ungoverned area before it points fingers towards Pakistan’s role in Afghan peace process,” he added. “US military aid suspension to Pakistan has no importance. At the same time, strategic dialogue between the two countries has also faced suspension for last two years. High level dialogues with US would not work until resumption and consistency in working level dialogues,” he said.
Khurram Dastgir said that US allegations and illogical demands have affected serious the efforts, made by Pakistan to ensure peace in region as well as the world. He said sacrifices of Pakistan in war against terrorism were above board and it would not allow anyone to make it a scapegoat and bring Afghan war on its soil. He said Pakistan had been facing challenges where it had been confronting with external threat on eastern border with India and facing internal threat due to terrorism.
The minister said the successful conduct of operation with Zarb-e-Azb and ongoing Raddul Fasaad had made Pakistan and region a citadel of peace. Replying to a question, he said presence of Afghan refugees in large number in Pakistan was also another cause of internal instability. The decision of extension for a month stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan has been taken by the Cabinet, he added.
The minister said a sustainable peace in Afghanistan was part of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Answering another question, Khurram Dastgir said Pakistan and China were partners and all weather friends. Multi-billion dollars project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would bring development and prosperity, not only in Pakistan but also in the region. “CPEC is the first ever project in history of Pak-China relationship that will actually bring economical success to region,” he added.
Regarding Indian hostile attitude, he said, Pakistan desires solution of all outstanding issue with India but its aggression along the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary was a matter of concern.
He said US deemed India as its strategic partner in region, and it has been trying to convince Pakistan not to see India as a threat while Pakistan clearly sees India as a threat to its peace and stability.
Khurram said the bilateral relations with regional countries like Russia and Iran were improving. “Pak-Russia conducted joint military exercises. Visit of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to Tehran is proving to be step forward in strengthening mutual relationship with regional countries,” he said.
In his concluding remarks, Chairman Ambassador Khalid Mahmood said that world should not ignore Pakistan’s sacrifices in war against terrorism. Pakistan has been a front line state in this war and Pakistanis have bought this peace with their blood, he added.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is denying Pakistanâ€™s claims it has suspended military or intelligence cooperation with the United States. Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said, â€œWe have not received any formal communication regarding a suspension.â€