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We are not prepared to be anyone's scapegoat: Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

22 September, 2017

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Pakistan refuses to be a “scapegoat” for Afghanistan's bloodshed or to fight wars for others, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told the United Nations on Thursday.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Abbasi did not explicitly criticise US President Donald Trump's new strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia but made clear his displeasure with the renewed onus on Pakistan.

“Having suffered and sacrificed so much due to our role in the global counterterrorism campaign, it is especially galling for Pakistan to be blamed for the military or political stalemate in Afghanistan,” Abbasi said.

“We are not prepared to be anyone's scapegoat,” he said.

“What Pakistan is not prepared to do is to fight the Afghan war on Pakistan's soil. Nor can we endorse any failed strategy that will prolong and intensify the suffering of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and other regional countries,” he said.

Abbasi said that 27,000 Pakistanis have been killed by extremists since the launch of the US war on terror after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

He called for a priority on eliminating extremists, including from the militant Islamic State (IS) group and Al Qaeda, in Afghanistan but ultimately a political solution with the Taliban.

US and Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of playing a double game and maintaining ties with extremists.

Trump, unveiling a new strategy last month, pledged to take a tougher line on Pakistan — making public what had long been more private US frustrations.

Trump has sent thousands more US troops into Afghanistan in a bid to defeat the Taliban, reversing his previous calls to end America's longest-ever war.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in his own speech to the United Nations appealed to Pakistan for dialogue, saying that the neighbours can work together to eliminate extremism.

Abbasi, who took office last month after his predecessor Nawaz Sharif was disqualified from office by the Supreme Court, used his UN address to renew Pakistan's condemnation of India's rule in held Kashmir.

Accusing India of “massive and indiscriminate force” in held Kashmir, Abbasi urged an international investigation and warned of escalation on their military frontier, the Line of Control.

“Pakistan has acted with restraint. But if India does venture across the LoC, or acts upon its doctrine of limited war against Pakistan, it will evoke a strong and matching response,” he said.

He was referring to an Indian strategic doctrine, rarely discussed openly, of a limited military response on Pakistan that is intended to stop short of triggering a nuclear reprisal.

Human rights violations by India in India-held Kashmir clearly constitute war crimes and violate the Geneva Conventions, Abbasi said, adding that India refuses to implement the UN Security Council resolution on Kashmir that mandates a UN-supervised plebiscite for the people of Jammu and Kashmir "to freely decide their destiny".

"India's deployment of 700,000 troops in IHK to suppress Kashmiri movement is the most intense foreign military occupation in recent history," he said, according to a tweet by Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria.

Abbasi said Pakistan urges the international community to call on India to halt pellet gun attacks on unarmed Kashmirs, stop "use of rape as instrument of state policy", end media blackouts, rescind its "draconian emergency laws", and free all Kashmiri political leaders.

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