September 13 , 2017

No list on terrorist sanctuaries received from US: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said Pakistan has not received any US list on terrorist sanctuaries. He said Pakistan was more committed than any other country in the region to a peaceful resolution of the Afghan issue.

“Pakistan has suffered massively due to instability in Afghanistan and believes that the solution should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned,” he told a group of foreign media representatives here at the PM Office on Tuesday.

The prime minister reiterated that Pakistan was open to close cooperation with the United States as their ties were decades old and could not be defined on the basis of one issue -- the Afghan issue.

“The issue of terrorism, of course, was a matter of concern for Pakistan as well and it had done the most in addressing it,” he said and added, "We had defeated it." He told the media persons to visit Miranshah and see for themselves how Pakistan's military had cleared the area by offering sacrifices.

The prime minister strongly rejected the allegations about terrorist sanctuaries inside Pakistan and said North Waziristan shares the same terrain with the border areas of Afghanistan but questioned the International Security Assistance Force achievements there. He said that Pakistan was open to bilateral verifications and joint patrols. He said Pakistan had fenced its border with Afghanistan and would welcome if they did the same.

“The other side is also required to address Pakistan's concerns regarding presence of terrorists, attacks on Pakistani border areas,” he emphasised. The prime minister said much more was happening from other side of the border and vehemently rejected the perception that attacks took place from Pakistan's territory, terming such allegations 'completely incorrect'. He said the militants' leadership was based in Afghanistan.

"We have even offered training to the Afghan forces in counter terrorism," he added. He said his government's mandate was to complete the initiatives taken by Nawaz Sharif. To another question, the prime minister said that democratic system was being strengthened with the passage of time.

About the BRICS declaration, the prime minister said the communique was not specific to Pakistan. “There was no difference in the policy of Pakistani and Chinese governments,” he added.

About going back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said the government had successfully completed the IMF programme with minimal inflation, which was a big achievement. The prime minister did not foresee going to the IMF and hoped that the government would achieve its economic targets with prudent policies. He said the government would address the economic challenges and its intention was to proceed with its own growth rate.

“Challenges are there but the government was addressing them,” the premier said, adding that the stock exchange would hopefully go up in the coming days. The prime minister said the devaluation of rupee was not on the cards. "We are broadening our tax net base and have a composite plan to provide incentives to the tax filers," he said.

To a question about turbulence in the Pak-US relations, he said there were strong economic, political and military ties between the two countries. He said the US had not clarified some of the perceptions raised in President Donald Trump's policy statement on Afghanistan and South Asia. He said that Pakistan needed more collaborations and cooperation between the two countries in various areas rather than just aid and assistance. He added that Pakistan was a huge market and the US companies had multi-billion dollar investment opportunities here.

Prime Minister Abbasi said Pakistan and the US have a very valuable relationship since the beginning of the diplomatic ties. "We intend to work and cooperate with the US against terrorism and address any concern," the prime minister said. "We respect others’ sovereignty and expect the same from others for ours," he said. He said that Pakistan had lost more than $120 billion in the war against terrorism, adding that the world community must recognize its sacrifices.

Regarding Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif's visits to four countries after Trump's policy statement, the prime minister said the minister was visiting major capitals to discuss Trump's policy with the leadership of these countries. To a question about Pakistan's mediation on Gulf-Qatar dispute, he said, "We look upon it as a family issue that needs to be resolved between two brothers."

About Pakistan-India tensions at the Line of Control, he said Pakistan had always welcomed efforts to have a peaceful relationship and wanted to resolve it peacefully through dialogue.





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