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NSC rejected India role as security provider in the South Asia region

25 August, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The National Security Committee (NSC) Thursday demanded an immediate US military effort to eliminate sanctuaries harbouring terrorists and miscreants on the Afghan soil and rejected the notion that India could be the net security provider in the South Asia region.

The committee, while rejecting specific allegations and insinuations against Pakistan by US President Donald Trump, said the country had an abiding interest in peace and stability in Afghanistan. “Scapegoat[ing] Pakistan will not help in stabilizing Afghanistan,” a strong statement issued at the end of the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at the PM Office said.

“Afghan war cannot be fought in Pakistan,” the meeting, which was also attended by all services chiefs and senior cabinet members, agreed after a threadbare discussion on the Trump administration’s South Asia Strategy. “More specifically, we would like to see effective and immediate US military efforts to eliminate sanctuaries harbouring terrorists and miscreants on the Afghan soil, including those responsible for fomenting terror in Pakistan.”

The NSC pointed out that being immediate neighbour, Pakistan had an abiding interest in peace and stability in Afghanistan. “India cannot be a net security provider in the South Asia region when it has conflictual relationships with all its neighbours and is pursuing a policy of destabilising Pakistan from the east and the west.”

The meeting expressed deep concern at “Indian policies inimical to peace in the region, including interference in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries and using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.” It condemned state inflicted repression on the people of Indian-held Kashmir and reiterated Pakistan’s continued diplomatic, political and moral support for their struggle for self-determination.

The committee reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The NSC, the country’s highest civil-military forum, observed that Pakistan had to manage the blowback of a protracted conflict in Afghanistan that resulted in deluge of refugees, flow of drugs and arms, and more recently in the shape of terrorist safe havens in eastern Afghanistan from where anti-Pakistan terrorist groups continue to operate and launch attacks inside Pakistan. “The fact remains that the complex issues and internal dynamics inside Afghanistan pose a grave challenge not only to Pakistan but to the broader region and the international community.”

While noting the US commitment to continue to shoulder the burden of Afghanistan and reverse the expanding ungoverned spaces in the country, the committee observed that Pakistan had consistently supported all international efforts for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan and had also committed more than a billion US dollars for infrastructure and social development in that country.

Over the years, the meeting said, Pakistan had worked with both the United States and Afghanistan to promote peace through a politically negotiated outcome which, in Pakistan's view, remained the best option to bring stability to the war-torn country. "A prolonged military campaign in Afghanistan has resulted in destruction and killing of hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians," the NSC noted and pointed out that Pakistan had also endorsed and supported all Afghan-owned and Afghan-led initiatives for peace.

"It is Pakistan's expectation that any strategy adopted to stabilise Afghanistan will succeed to end this protracted conflict and usher in an era of peace in the country paving way for the dignified return of millions of Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan for which we are willing to extend all possible cooperation."

The committee said on its own part, Pakistan had taken indiscriminate actions against all terrorist networks and sacrificed thousands of troops and civilians in that fight. The demonstrated security improvement inside Pakistan, it said, would not have been possible without eliminating all terrorist hideouts. Moreover, successful cooperation with the US in the past against the common enemy, terrorism, reflected Pakistan's unflinching commitment to eliminate this menace, the committee added.

Referring to Donald Trump's assertion of payment of billions of dollars to Pakistan over the years, the committee said instead of any financial or material assistance, there should be understanding and recognition of Pakistan's efforts, contributions and sacrifice of thousands of Pakistanis and over 120 billion US dollars of economic losses. "We consider the lives of the citizens of other countries as sacrosanct as those of our own and, therefore, Pakistan is committed to not allowing its soil to be used for violence against any other country. We expect the same from our neighbours."

The NSC said the claims of billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan were misleading to the extent that the reimbursements to Pakistan since 2001 only accounted for part of the cost of ground facilities and air corridors used by the United States for its operations in Afghanistan, rather than any financial aid or assistance. "Pakistan's effective counter-terrorism operations have clearly proved that tide of terrorism can be reversed and we are willing to share our experience with both the US and Afghanistan." This would require working together and focusing on core issues of eliminating safe havens inside Afghanistan, border management, return of refugees and reinvigorating the peace process for a political settlement in Afghanistan, it added.

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