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Hafiz Saeed a liability, says Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Asif but reminds US that JuD chief 'was your darling'

Pakistan's foreign minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday said that Hafiz Saeed, Lashkar-e-Taiba are liabilities for his country at a question and answer session at the Asia Society in New York, media reports said. The minister said that Pakistan does not have the assets to deal with these liabilities immediately and sought time to deal with the same.

On Wednesday, Pakistan’s interior ministry has opposed the registration of Saeed's Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) political wing Milli Muslim League (MML), putting brakes to Saeed’s political ambitions. In August, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group that carried out the deadly 2008 Mumbai attack, announced that it was launching the Milli Muslim League.

Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, roams free in Pakistan and recently launched a political party, saying he would contest elections in 2018. The US and UN have declared Saeed a global terrorist for his role in the Mumbai attack.

Asif said that the US, which is putting pressure on Pakistan to tackle terrorist groups operating from its soil, once used to treat them as "darlings" just 20 to 30 years back. "These were the people who were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back. They were being dined and wined in the White House and now you say 'go to hell Pakistanis because you are nurturing these people'," he was quoted as saying by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.

US president Donald Trump had in August criticised Pakistan for its support to terror groups, saying it receives billions in US aid but continues to harbour militants.

According to The Times of India, Asif made an impassioned defence of his country, lamented its slide into extremism and blamed the rise of terrorist elements in Pakistan in the last 20 years in the United States.

File image of Khawaja Asif. AFP

File image of Khawaja Asif. AFP

Asif also mentioned how Pakistan had stood firmly with the US during the war against the erstwhile USSR in Afghanistan, which he thinks was wrong as they were 'used and discarded'.

Pakistan is ready to work with the US for effective management of the Afghan border to stop terrorist infiltration and to facilitate a peace settlement in Afghanistan, he said. Speaking at the forum, Asif said that there was no military solution to the festering conflict in Afghanistan.

"Scapegoating Pakistan for all the Afghan ills is neither fair nor accurate. This will only help forces that we are trying to fight collectively," he said.

Asif also talked about Pakistan's relations with India, the Kashmir dispute, counter-terrorism measures and the country's economic progress.

"We cannot take responsibility for Afghanistan's peace and security and be asked to achieve what the combined strength of some of the most powerful and richest countries could not accomplish," he said.

An NDTV reported said the interior minister, in a letter to the country's election body, cited the refusal of security clearance by intelligence agencies and also said "some countries" have raised the subject diplomatically.

Talking about Pakistan's sour relations with India, the minister said that a new initiative was needed to bring India and Pakistan to the negotiating table.

He said that the need to discuss all issues, including the decades-old Kashmir dispute — the main source of tension between the two countries.

"Peace in the neighbourhood is impossible to achieve unless relations with India improve. Pakistan reached out to India to seek normalisation of relations and resolution of all disputes through dialogue and engagement, but India did not reciprocate," Asif claimed.

Pakistan is ready to work with India to seek peaceful resolution of all disputes and to create an environment of peace and stability allowing the people of the two countries to realise their aspirations of prosperity and development, the minister added.

Asif's statements come a few days after Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj's attack on Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly. Swaraj had said though both countries became independent at the same time, "India is globally known as an IT superpower and Pakistan, as the pre-eminent export factory for terror".

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Sep 28, 2017 07:41 AM

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