Days of depending on US are over for Pakistan: Abbasi

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The days of Pakistan depending on the US to meet its military and other requirements are over, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Arab News during an exclusive interview.

The world should recognize Pakistan’s efforts in fighting the “world’s war” on terror, he said, in his first interview since returning from the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in September.

“If one source dries up, we have no option but to go to another source. It may cost more, it may consume more resources, but we have to fight that war, and that’s what we emphasized to all the people that we met,” Abbasi added.

“Any sanctions or restraints… put on our systems only degrades our efforts to fight terror, and it affects the whole equation in this region,” he said.

“We have major US weapons systems in our military, but we’ve also diversified. We have Chinese and European systems. Recently, for the first time we inducted Russian attack helicopters.”

Bilateral ties

The “candid” discussion with Pence was essential for official engagements in the future because when Trump’s policy statement on South Asia came out, there were “a lot of apprehensions on what it meant, and what it meant for Pakistan-US relations,” Abbasi said.

“I think we moved substantially forward in that direction. Whatever concerns they (the US) have, we’ve shown our willingness to address those concerns.”

The meeting paved the way for one between Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday in Washington.

They discussed Trump’s South Asia policy, and Asif told Tillerson that Islamabad pursues a zero-tolerance approach to “all terrorist and militant groups.”

This was in response to Trump’s assertion that Pakistan harbors “agents of chaos,” which he blames for Afghanistan’s continued instability.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the US was willing “one more time” to work with Pakistan on Afghanistan, but would resort to measures set by Trump in case of non-compliance regarding the allegations of support for militants.

Abbasi said: “We can categorically state that we don’t provide any sanctuaries to anybody. The bottom line is… today we have a common objective: To destroy terror and bring peace to Afghanistan.”

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