Asif to US: Don’t treat us as ‘whipping boy’


Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday warned India against carrying out surgical strikes in Pakistan or targeting its nuclear installations, saying if that happens nobody should expect restraint from his country.

Referring to a statement of India’s Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa who has said that the Indian armed forces are ready for a full spectrum operation, Asif said: “Pakistan wants to live in peace and harmony with its neighbours.”

But if India carries out any surgical strike in Pakistan or strikes at its nuclear installations “nobody should expect restraint from us”, he warned.

Speaking at the US Institute of Peace, a Washington-based think-tank, the foreign minister said the “relationship with India is at a lowest ebb at the moment”.

Responding to a question on India, he said, “Sadly, India did not respond” to Pakistani efforts to improve relationship. “What is going on in [Indian Occupied] Kashmir is the biggest roadblock to normalisation to talks,” Asif said.

The foreign minister asked the US not to treat his country as a ‘whipping boy’ and said Washington has already lost the war in Afghanistan and is only trying to salvage the situation in the war-torn nation.

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Asif said his meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor H R McMaster were good. “Was not bad,” Asif quipped.

“The meeting went well with Tillerson and US National Security Adviser Lieutenant General H R McMaster [meeting]was good. [It] was not bad,” he said, noting that the two countries need to pursue contacts with each other.

He favoured adopting an approach of talks and exchange of views more vigorously.

The US, he said, is focusing solely on safe haven allegations or blaming Pakistan for what they have not achieved in Afghanistan. “There are many more dimension of what is going on in Afghanistan,” he said.

Standing by his remarks on some of the terrorist groups and terrorist leaders at the Asia Society in New York last week, Asif said they were a liability. “We will find ways and means to wrapping up this business. This is a liability. [but]this cannot be wrapped up overnight.”

Responding to a question, Asif said there were problems in US-Pakistan ties. “We do have problems with the US. We have deficit of trust. We are trying to mend those deficits,” he said.

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Pakistan, he said, sees more role for Russia and China in the region.

Asif said Pakistan and the United States “need to actively work to achieve common objective of durable peace in the region”.

“The menace of global terrorism has claimed hundreds of thousands of human lives. Pakistan wishes to build partnership for a secure and prosperous future and to defeat the forces of disarray,” the foreign minister said while speaking at the US Institute of Peace in Washington.

He said: “Pakistan considers itself as the longstanding friend of the United States and friends need to revitalise and refresh their friendship from time to time.”

“Our relationships are underpinned by certain shared values.”

Asif said: “We are living in hell” because of the decision to participate in the US fight against the Soviet Union.

“While US soldiers went back chest thumping that they have defeated the Soviet Union, no one cared about what happened to Pakistan,” said the minister who is known for his candour.

He said about 3.5 million refugees are living in Pakistan. “We have every kind of friction — religious, ethnic, political intolerance. This is the baggage we carry from the 80s.”

Over the Vegas shooting, the foreign minister said Pakistan was deeply saddened by the incident. He stressed that it should be called an act of terror.

“Why call it shooting, call it terrorism. This is terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” he said, adding, “These contradictions will be counterproductive.”









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