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Pakistan defence minister says ‘not our job’ to satisfy US, reassessing ties

Khurram Dastgir Khan said Pakistan has also undertaken an outreach to regional countries ahead of talks with the US on future bilateral engagement.

world Updated: Sep 14, 2017 20:14 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan-US relations,defence minister Khurram Dastgir Khan,Afghanistan
Pakistan's defence minister Khurram Dastgir Khan.(via Facebook)

Pakistan's defence minister Khurram Dastgir Khan has said the onus of satisfying the United States about its concerns does not lie with Islamabad.

“We are here to give our point of view logically and with evidence. We will explain our position. But it’s not for us to satisfy them,” Khan told reporters at the defence ministry on Wednesday evening.

The government is currently, in Khan’s words, “reassessing ties with the US” and has simultaneously undertaken an outreach to regional countries ahead of talks with the US on future bilateral engagement.

Foreign minister Khawaja Asif, after accompanying Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to the UN General Assembly session in New York next week, is expected to visit Washington for a meeting with secretary of state Rex Tillerson.

Asif’s meeting with Tillerson was originally scheduled for mid-August, but was postponed at Pakistan’s request after President Donald Trump’s policy statement on Afghanistan and South Asia criticised Islamabad’s counter-terrorism efforts. The statement was seen as demeaning to Pakistan, dismissive of its sacrifices in the fight against terror and indifferent to Islamabad’s security concerns.

Khan said Pakistan and the US need to have a frank and candid dialogue on issues concerning them, as differences between them would reflect in Afghanistan and other regional issues.

He noted that the US did not share Pakistan’s threat perception about India, which he said was indulging in warmongering and building up its military capabilities.

Khan also contended that a nexus between the US, India and Afghanistan in Kabul threatened Pakistan. “The US knows all, but ignores the threats faced by us because of its strategic interests,” he said.

He said Pakistan would keep raising its concerns about India in future engagements with the US. “The US cannot ignore the threat to us from India. It is (a) serious (situation),” he said, adding it would be major challenge for the Pakistani side to get it acknowledged in upcoming talks.

Khan said another challenge for Pakistan was that the US “keeps changing the goalposts”.

First Published: Sep 14, 2017 19:48 IST