Infiltration from Afghanistan biggest issue: Prime Minister
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
Pakistan Press Club – ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday categorically rejected the United States’ claims of the presence of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, and said that infiltration from Afghanistan is the biggest issue for Pakistan, Geo News reported.
He said, “terrorist groups are present in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan,” while speaking to a foreign magazine. The premier said while the government of Pakistan is taking indiscriminate action against all the terrorist groups, terrorists have continued to conduct attacks from Afghanistan.
“Terrorist attacks are being conducted from Afghanistan, not Pakistan,” Abbasi stressed. “We have identified terrorist bases in Afghanistan.”
He also observed that negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban are necessary to establish long-lasting peace in the country. “We are ready to fully cooperate in [these] negotiations,” he said, adding that Pakistan had twice taken the initiative but the efforts were ‘sabotaged.’
The top US general in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, on Tuesday said that he had not seen a change in Pakistan’s support for the militants so far, despite President Donald Trump taking a tougher line against Islamabad.
US officials have long been frustrated by what they see as Pakistan’s reluctance to act against groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, which launch attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan. In August, Trump outlined a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, chastising Pakistan over its alleged support for Afghan militants. General Nicholson accused Pakistan of harbouring “agents of chaos” and providing safe havens to militant groups waging an insurgency against a US-backed government in Kabul.
Pakistan’s military, however, had brushed off the speculation that Trump could signal a stronger line against Islamabad, insisting the country has done all it can to tackle militancy. “Let it come,” Major General Asif Ghafoor — the Pakistani military spokesman — told reporters. “Even if it comes… Pakistan shall do whatever is best in the national interest.”
The US official expressed the hope that relations between the two countries could improve after a kidnapped US-Canadian couple and their three children were freed in Pakistan in October after the couple was abducted in neighbouring Afghanistan.
“We have been very direct and very clear with the Pakistanis… we have not seen those changes implemented yet,” General John Nicholson told reporters. “We are hoping to see those changes, we are hoping to work together with the Pakistanis going forward to eliminate terrorists who are crossing” the border, Nicholson said.
He added that he believed that senior Taliban leaders were based in Pakistan, while the lower level leadership was in Afghanistan. Pakistan has repeatedly said that it has done a great deal to help the United States in tracking down the terrorists.