}

Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa says Islamabad won't seek resumption of suspended US military aid

Islamabad: Pakistan will not seek the resumption of suspended US military aid and feels "betrayed" by the recent critical statements of the American leadership against Islamabad's fight against terrorism, army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said.

President Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of providing safe havens for terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network fighting in war-torn Afghanistan.

File image of Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. AP

File image of Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. AP

On 1 January, Trump tweeted that the US had "foolishly" given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had gotten nothing in return but "lies & deceit." Washington has confirmed that it will withhold nearly $2 billion in aid to Pakistan.

General Bajwa received two telephone calls from Commander US Central Command (CENTCOM) General Joseph L Votel and one from an unidentified US Senator over the week to discuss Pakistan-US security cooperation post the President Trump tweet, the army spokesman said in a statement on Friday.

He said that General Votel apprised General Bajwa about the US decision regarding Security Assistance and Coalition Support Fund and said that US values Pakistan's role towards war on terror and expected that ongoing turbulence remains a "temporary phase".

"The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) reiterated that Pakistan will not seek resumption of aid but expect honourable recognition of our contributions, sacrifices and unwavering resolve in fight against terrorism for peace and stability in the region," according to the statement.

The freezing of US military aid to Pakistan also includes $255 million due to it for military equipment and training under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) fund, and $700 million under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) - paid to the country for conducting operations against militant groups.

General Bajwa further said that Pakistan will keep supporting all initiatives for peace in Afghanistan despite the tendency to "scapegoat" Pakistan, as peace in Afghanistan is the only way to move towards enduring peace and stability in the region.

General Votel also conveyed that "US is not contemplating any unilateral action inside Pakistan but is seeking cooperation to tackle Afghan nationals who, in US view, use Pakistan's soil against Afghanistan."

"This view, he (General Votel) felt, was undermining in Washington, Pakistan's contributions in war against terrorism," the statement said.

The COAS said that entire Pakistani nation felt "betrayed" over US recent statements despite decades of cooperation and the unanimous national response reflected the same sentiments.

"The COAS said that Pakistan shall continue its sincere counter terrorism efforts even without US financial support in accordance with our national interest and shall remain committed to bring it to its logical conclusion along with other stakeholders," the statement said.

General Bajwa said that Pakistan has suffered hugely due to great power contestation in the region.

He also said that Pakistan is fully aware of US concerns on activities of Afghan nationals in Pakistan.

"We are already undertaking multiple actions through Operation 'Radd ul Fasaad' to deny any residual capacity to terrorists of all hue and colour for which return of Afghan refugees is an essential prerequisite, he said.

General Votel acknowledged the effectiveness of some of the recent actions taken by Pakistan to ensure that Pakistan's hospitality to Afghan refugees is not misused in anyway and also agreed that both countries stand to gain from cooperative engagement.

The army did not share the identity or details of the call by US Senator.

However, the calls confirm what foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said that the two sides were in touch to resolve the difference since Donald Trump's scathing new year tweet.

"The two sides continue to communicate with each on various issues of mutual interest at different levels. Since, it is being done outside media glare, I cannot share further details with you," Faisal had said.


Updated Date: Jan 12, 2018 19:17 PM

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