On Tuesday, a six-member delegation comprising Pakistan’s top civil and military leadership hosted US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for a brief visit to Islamabad.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, while briefing the Senate on Wednesday regarding the talks held between Pakistani and American delegations a day earlier, asserted that Islamabad will co-operate with Washington in the ‘war on terror’ but without compromising its own sovereignty.
Asif briefed that the Pakistani leadership told the American delegation that they should allow their policymakers, and not their military leaders, to devise a policy for Afghanistan as the military solution has failed and a political solution is needed.
“Their failures over the past 16 years [since the war in Afghanistan started] is before them,” Asif added.
“There will only be room for improvement if Washington accepts their defeat, their failures in Afghanistan,” Asif said on Wednesday. “They are not ready to accept this.”
During the talks, Asif told the Senate, Pakistani officials informed the American delegation that Pakistan does not want any military hardware, economic resources or material gain from Washington. Rather, Pakistan wants a relationship based on equality with the US.
Asif further informed the Senate that the Pakistani side has told the American delegation that if the latter provides actionable intelligence, Pakistan will act on it. He gave the example of the recent rescue of an American-Canadian couple and their three children from terrorists’ captivity in Kohat.
“However, if they want that we act as their proxies to fight their war… this is unacceptable.”
“We will not compromise on our sovereignty, our dignity,” Asif added. “Our relations [with America] should be based on self-respect and dignity.”
He said, in contrast, Pakistan, which is not a superpower, has gained successes in the war against terror.
“Our country, our military and our police have made sacrifices in the war and in return, we have gained unmatched success.”
He said Pakistan would see further success if the Parliament, the National Security Committee and the people of the country send a united message as they had after August 21 when US President Donald Trump announced his South Asia policy and lambasted Pakistan for offering safe havens to “agents of chaos”.
At no stage since the policy announcement, have we succumbed to pressure and on Tuesday, for the first time, the civilian and military leadership of Pakistan sat down with the delegation and presented their input, Asif said.
“At no point during the talks did we adopt an accusatory tone, nor were we apologetic,” the minister told the Senate.
“The institutions of Pakistan will protect the country’s interest,” Asif said.