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Pakistan foreign minister equates terrorists with US gun lobby

Asif said these “liabilities” have been around for decades and cannot be “liquidated” overnight in response to a question on terror groups have survived in Pakistan.

world Updated: Oct 06, 2017 00:36 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Pakistan,Khawaja Asif,LeT
Pakistani foreign minister Khawaja Asif during a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department in Washington, on October 4, 2017.(AP Photo)

Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday sought America’s patience and understanding as his country deals with terrorism, comparingit, for purposes of comprehension, to the problem of guns and the gun lobby in the US in the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre of 59 people.

Asif also scolded Americans for prevaricating on defining tragedies such as Las Vegas: “Call it terrorism, terrorism in all its forms…Why do you call it shooting? Call it terrorism. Why are you afraid of calling a spade a spade? …Face this problem on your own land.”

He moved to terrorism and the gun lobby in response to a question about why groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and its leader Hafiz Saeed survive freely and openly in Pakistan. These “liabilities”, he said, have been around for decades and cannot be “liquidated” overnight.

“We need time to ask them to wrap up their business,” he said.

“I will give you an example,” Asif followed up, in an effort to reach the American audience, hoping to connect and find empathy. “There is a gun lobby in the US. Can you take it on? No, you cannot. You need… a few decades and perhaps, god forbid, god forbid, more tragedies also.”

A “majority of Americans want a gun ban”, he claimed.

Not true. A PEW study last June found three out of 10 Americans owned a gun or more, 36% saw themselves owning one or more, and a third said they never would. He might have meant gun law reforms, which are backed by most Americans,

Asif ploughed on. “But there are people who will resist that (the gun ban) — the politicians…these people have their tentacles, they have their roots — over the years,” he went on, comparing the American gun lobby to LeT and Saeed.

Struck perhaps by the thin, and thinning, logic behind the comparison, Asif conceded, “I am quoting the example of the gun lobby which may not be 100% correct.”

But he persisted: “People are helpless. The common American is helpless against the gun lobby. The situation is somewhat similar .. I am trying to find parallels between the two situations.”

And with that he moved on to other subjects.

The US gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, is extremely powerful. It has blocked all efforts to reform the slack gun laws — even basic changes such as background checks for prospective buyers — with the support of most Republican and some Democratic lawmakers.

A gun ban is not even on the table for discussion, not even from the Democrats. It’s political suicide for anyone to even suggest that. President Donald Trump used to work up his supporters in the last election by telling them, wrongly, that his rival Hillary Clinton would take away their right to bear arms.

First Published: Oct 06, 2017 00:35 IST