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Friday Jan 05 2018

Do not want current situation with US to escalate: Khurram Dastagir


ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir on Friday said that the country does not want to escalate the current situation which arose due to "Trump's mercurial nature" and added that Pakistan's cooperation with the US will remain. 

The defence minister was speaking on Geo News Naya Pakistan.

The US on Friday announced that it is suspending the transfer of military equipment and security-related funds to Pakistan.

The suspension of security assistance to Islamabad comes after Washington accused Pakistan of playing a “double game” on fighting terrorism and warned Islamabad it would have to do more if it wanted to maintain US aid.

When asked how he would describe the current Pak-US relationship, Dastagir said the ties are in a state of "cold peace" and regretted the use of such language by Trump. "You do not use such language with allies."

Elaborating on US aid to Pakistan, the defence minister said that facts need to be put forward first and added that, according to US statistics, military aid to Pakistan has reduced by 62 per cent from its peak and Coalition Support Funds have reduced by the same number. 

He added that economic aid has also reduced by 73pc. The defence minister maintained that the reduction in US aid will not have a significant effect on the country. 

Dastagir also said that the finance ministry is preparing a paper and there would be complete accountability regarding the amount of aid received and used by Pakistan over the course of the war on terror. 

He said, according to initial estimates, the US owes Pakistan $10 billion for services rendered during the period. 

Dastagir lamented that the US has even included funds which were given for anti-narcotics effort and which were not related to the war on terror. 

Price of liberty

Reiterating the losses Pakistan has suffered and the sacrifices the country has given during the war, the defence minister said the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. 

He added that the country and its armed forces learned their lesson after the Osama bin Laden raid and the armed forces are well trained and alert. 

"This is not Salala and bin Laden's Pakistan, this is Pakistan after Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad," said Dastagir. 

He also said the objective is to restore peace in Afghanistan and added that the US had asked for an operation in North Waziristan, which was conducted after capacity building. 

Dastagari further said the armed forces conduct operations in whichever valley they receive information regarding the presence of terrorists. 

In a tweet on January 1, Trump claimed that the United States had foolishly given Pakistan over $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years.

In his tweet, the US president accused Pakistan of thinking US leaders to be fools. “They give safe havens to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, in a reply to the US president's tweet, said Pakistan will let the world know the truth and will be responding to Trump's tweet.


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