Pakistan says 'engaged' with US on security cooperation days after Washington suspends military aid

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said it was "engaged" with the US on the issue of security cooperation, days after Washingtion suspended military aid worth nearly $2 billion to Islamabad for failing to rein-in terror groups operating from its soil.

US president Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of providing safe havens for terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.

On 1 January, he 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."

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Since then, Washington confirmed it will withhold $255 million in US military aid to Pakistan.

Commenting on US-Pakistan ties and their cooperation in the fight against terrorism, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said it required mutual respect and trust along with perseverance.

Emergence of new and more deadly groups such as the Islamic State in Afghanistan, require enhancement and strengthening of international cooperation.

"Arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goalposts are counterproductive in addressing common threats," Faisal, said, repeating his statement made earlier.

"We are engaged with the US administration on the issue of security cooperation and await further details," he told reporters at a briefing.

"It must be appreciated that Pakistan has fought the war against terrorism largely from its own resources, which has cost over $123 billion in 15 years," he said.

He said Pakistan was "determined" to continue to do all that is necessary to secure the lives of its citizens and ensure broader stability in the region.

"We believe that our efforts have helped decimate Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups who took advantage of ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan and posed a common threat to peace and stability," he said.

On the question of the presence of Taliban leadership in Pakistan, Faisal said the government completely denies this allegation.

"We have repeatedly said that Pakistan will take action on the basis of any actionable intelligence/ information provided to us," he said.

He said Pakistan has conveyed to the US that "actionable intelligence sharing" can help in advancing the shared goal of defeating terrorism from the region.

He said Pakistan has been facilitating the US led mission in Afghanistan through its Ground and Air lines of communication for the last 16 years.

"Pakistan's support to the US has been critical in dealing with the challenges of terrorism in the region. Both sides understand the importance of the lines of communication," he said.

Asked to comment on the critical remarks of Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif against the US, the spokesman said it need to be seen in the proper perspective.

"The foreign minister was expressing his frustration at the unwarranted US accusations against Pakistan and the unilateral decision to suspend the security assistance, despite Pakistan's extra-ordinary sacrifices and contribution in the war against terrorism," he said.

The "provocative" statements by the US leadership notwithstanding, Pakistan's response has been "measured", as we believe that continued Pak-US cooperation is important for the stability of the region, especially Afghanistan, he added.

Commenting on the US decision to suspend Pakistan's security assistance, he said it was a "unilateral step", which would have its negative implications for the stability of the region.

"On our part, we have stated that we do not seek US assistance. Pakistan's commitment to continue its counter-terrorism and law enforcement actions throughout the country will continue in our national interest, irrespective of any suspension of foreign assistance," he said.

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Updated Date: Jan 11, 2018 22:11:28 IST

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