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Pakistan Says U.S. Has Not Issued Demands Over Afghanistan

by AFP

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

P.M. Abbasi says Islamabad-Washington relationship will not be defined by Kabul

Pakistan has not received specific requests from the U.S. to target alleged militant sanctuaries, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Tuesday, as he vowed to tighten security along the border with Afghanistan.

The premier’s remarks come weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump lambasted Pakistan during a speech outlining U.S. policy on Afghanistan, accusing Islamabad of hosting safe havens for insurgents who cross the border to attack Afghan and NATO forces.

During a press conference, Abbasi denied the accusations that Pakistan supported militants groups as he batted away suggestions that Trump’s comments would upend relations between the Cold War allies.

“We don’t think the Pakistani-U.S. relationship will be defined by Afghanistan,” the prime minister told reporters in Islamabad. “This relationship [is] 70 years old [and] cannot be redefined by one issue or it should not be redefined by one issue.”

Islamabad has repeatedly rejected claims of being soft on militancy, accusing its ally of ignoring the thousands who have been killed in Pakistan and the billions spent fighting extremists. Following Trump’s remarks, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cautioned that Pakistan could lose its status as a major U.S. ally and see its U.S. military aid suspended.

Abbasi however said he was unaware of any looming punishments, adding Washington had not issued demands to Pakistan on the matter. “We have not received any list of measures,” said Abbasi. “We are open [with the U.S.]. We are transparent. We have nothing to hide.”

He added that Pakistan was willing to kick start a raft of measures to increase security along the border with Afghanistan and improve its rocky relationship with its neighbor. “We are open to bilateral verification, we’re open to joint patrols,” said Abbasi. “We will put up a fence there, the Afghans are welcome to put up another fence on their side.”

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