The article originally appeared on India Today.

After US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reminded Pakistan that it needed to eradicate militants and terrorists operating from its soil, Pakistan has hit back saying there are no safe havens in the country and also that they are not supporting or protecting the Haqqani Network, one of the most dreaded terror groups of Afghanistan which the US alleges operates from Pakistan.

“Terrorist attacks are not planned on or executed from Pakistani soil, there are no terrorist safe havens in Pakistan,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said in a Geo News interview. Asif also said that “Pakistan made it clear to the US delegation that it is not protecting or supporting the Haqqani network.”

Tillerson, who is on Middle-East and South Asia tour and is in Delhi today with scheduled meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, was in Pakistan yesterday after his unscheduled Afghanistan stopover on October 23 where he had reiterated the US government stand that Pakistan must rein in the terror groups operating from its soil.

Pakistan’s parliament also lashed at Tillerson’s comment. The Chairman of Pakistan’s Senate, Raza Rabbani, called Tillerson’s remarks unacceptable. “Tillerson’s statement seems like that of a viceroy’s before they visit a country,” an acerbic Rabbani fumed.

Asif also blamed US and international forces for their “ineptitude” that he believed was responsible for prolonging the Afghanistan crisis and dismissed the US threats of curtailing economic and military aid. “Pakistan only receives “a trickle” of economic assistance from the US and does not get any military hardware from them and Pakistanis are not like in the past when they were American’s proxy,” Asif told the BBC News.

After US President Donald Trump called Pakistan a treacherous nation and a safe haven for terrorists, engaged in double-dealings, harbouring and protecting the very same terrorists who attack the US interests in Afghanistan, while unveiling his South Asia policy, the US has increasingly been putting more pressure on Pakistan to honour its commitment.

A fortnight ago, when Pakistan was patting its back for its so-called brilliant rescue operation to liberate a US-Canadian family who was in Haqqanis’ captivity for five years, the terse response from Trump was, “the Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.”

The US has taken measures including cutting military aid to Pakistan and is going to curtail its role in Afghanistan while at the same time is looking for a strategic partnership with India in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process, a cornerstone of Trump’s new Afghanistan policy, even if Pakistan sees an increased Indian presence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests.


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