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Any policy to isolate Pakistan will fail: Khawaja Asif

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has said Pakistan has offered the United States to launch a joint operation against the Haqqani network.

Talking to a news channel in Islamabad, he said the country will never give in to the influence of others and will take steps keeping in view larger national interest.

If pressured, friendly countries, like China, Russia, Iran and Tureky will stand by Pakistan, the minister said.

He said National Action Plan was evolved to wipe out terrorists from the country and all the national institutions and political parties have developed consensus on implementation of it.

Asif said Pakistan wants cordial relations with US on equality basis.

However, he made it clear that Pakistan will not accept any dictation. While expressing concern over presence of Daesh in Afghanistan, the foreign minister said that the United States should investigate the terrorist group’s activities in that country.

He said any policy, which will try to isolate Pakistan would fail, adding that civil and military leadership is on the same page regarding Afghan policy.

Khawaja Asif described as “hollow allegations”, the comments by senior U.S.officials and lawmakers during his visit to Washington last week that questioned Islamabad’s resolve in fighting militancy.

President Donald Trump’s administration is seeking to implement its regional strategy. While U.S. officials have long been critical of the role Pakistan has played in Afghanistan, senior officials have been more pointed in recent days about Islamabad’s alleged support for militant groups.

Last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the United States would try “one more time” to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan before Trump would “take whatever steps are necessary” to change Pakistan’s behavior.

“You want us to sniff them out, we will do that. You want us to take action against them, whatever action you propose, we will do that… (but) these hollow allegations are not acceptable,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told a group of reporters.

In August, Trump outlined a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, chastising Pakistan over its alleged support for Afghan militants.

It was reported that possible Trump administration responses being discussed include expanding U.S. drone strikes and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.

Asif singled out Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, saying the senator was “playing to his constituents” when he criticized Pakistan.

“We are not saying we are saints. Perhaps in the past, we made some mistakes. But since the last three, four years, we are wholeheartedly, single mindedly, targeting these terrorists,” Asif said.

Asif said that Pakistan had less influence over the Taliban than in previous years, which could impact any efforts for peace talks to bring an end to the war in Afghanistan. He added that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would be visiting Pakistan later this month.

Khawaja Asif has said that the present government would complete its five years constitutional tenure and the PML-N would emerge as victorious in general election 2018.

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