In briefing to Senate committee, national security adviser echoes foreign minister in describing today’s Afghan Taliban as ‘more mature and restrained’
National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf on Wednesday claimed that the Government of Pakistan is working on a new roadmap for bilateral ties with the U.S.
In a briefing to the Senate Committee on Defense and National Security, he said authorities wanted to expand ties across various sectors, adding that they should not be Afghanistan-specific. He said that the government was focused on developing a plan that would boost cooperation in commerce and trade, investment, vaccine manufacturing, climate change, defense and the promotion of regional economic connectivity. He hoped that as the plan was finalized, the level of engagement between the two countries would increase in the coming days.
In a separate appearance on a local TV channel, he said Pakistan had “denied” the U.S. any opportunity to demand military bases from it, claiming there would be no change to this policy. Acknowledging that it made sense for Washington to look for nearby air bases after withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, he reiterated that Islamabad would not permit the use of its soil to conduct military strikes against any third nation.
Warning the world against thinking of Pakistan as “free for all,” he stressed that the U.S. had no grounds to ask Pakistan for any bases after Islamabad had clearly conveyed its stance.
Afghanistan and India
During the Senate committee briefing, Yusuf also deliberated on the situation in Afghanistan, and echoed Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in describing the Taliban as “more mature” and restrained than prior to 2001. He claimed that the areas of Afghanistan that had been taken over by the insurgents in the past few months were not secured through force, but rather the surrendering of demoralized Afghan troops.
The NSA reaffirmed that Pakistan’s policy on Afghanistan remained unchanged, stressing that Islamabad desired an inclusive political settlement that would ensure Afghan soil could not be used against it. He said that the international community was being apprised on Pakistan’s concerns over any deterioration in Afghanistan’s security situation, especially the potential of a new influx of refugees.
Yusuf also discussed Pak-Indo relations, reiterating that the onus was now on Delhi to seek the resumption of dialogue after revoking its Aug. 5, 2019 decision to unilaterally abrogate the special constitutional status of India-held Jammu and Kashmir.