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Haqqani Network considered as darlings of White House few decades ago: Khawaja Asif

28 September, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan while refusing to take the blame for Haqqani Network and other alleged militant outfits, has reminded the United States that these ‘terrorists’ were considered the ‘darlings’ of the White House up until a few decades ago.

“Don’t blame us for the Haqqanis [the Haqqani Network] and don’t blame us for the Hafiz Saeed [the head of banned Jamaatud Dawa]. 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’,” Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, who is attending the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, told the Asia Society forum.

“It is very easy to say that Pakistan is floating Haqqanis and Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. They are liabilities. I accept that they are liabilities, but give us time to get rid of them because we don’t have the assets to match these liabilities and you are increasing them [our liabilities] further,” he said, further clarifying Islamabad’s position.

He said Pakistan was ready to work with the US for effective management of Afghan border to stop terrorist infiltration. Speaking at the forum, Asif stressed that there was no military solution to the festering conflict in Afghanistan. “Scapegoating Pakistan for all the Afghan ills is neither fair nor accurate,” he said. “This will only help forces that we are trying to fight collectively,” he remarked. Pakistan, he said, had in the past done all it could to facilitate a political settlement in Afghanistan, making sure that Pakistani soil was not used against any country.

Pakistan has a ‘larger stake’ in seeing the return of peace and stability in Afghanistan than any other country, having suffered grievously from the conflict and instability across the border, he said. “We are mindful of the strong desire in the US to bring the long war in Afghanistan to an end,” he said. “We support this objective wholeheartedly and are ready to help in any way we can to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he offered. He, however, made it clear that there were obviously clear limits to what Pakistan could do. “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 told the audience.

“Effective border management, frankly, is the key,” the minister said, adding, “More needs to be done on the Afghan side of the border where terrorist elements are finding easy safe havens.” “We are keen to work with the US in effectively managing the Afghan border and in facilitating a peace process to the extent we can,” he said.

He added, “Emergence of new threats, including Da’esh, demands ever greater coordination and stronger partnerships between like-minded countries to put up a united front to counter these dark forces of exclusion and extremism.”

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