28 Sep 2017/Thursday
“You mentioned a name. It’s a proscribed organisation. The gentleman’s under house arrest. But I agree with you that on that score we have to do more. We have to do more. There are people in Pakistan who can be a liability in times of crisis for Pakistan and (for) the region. I don’t disagree with that,” said Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Asif at a Q&A session at the Asia Society in New York, referring to Saeed, who masterminded the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.
Asif also acknowledged that Pakistan has to continue its efforts in dismantling terrorism and elements of extremism but added that it needs time and “assets” to do the job. “Saeed, LeT, they are a liability, I accept it, but give us time to get rid of them, we don’t have the assets to deal with these liabilities,” said Asif.
In an engaging Q&A session, Asif made an impassioned defence of his country, lamented its slide into extremism and eloquently laid much of the blame on the rise of terrorist elements in Pakistan in the last 20 years on the US.
He said, by “wrongly” supporting the US in a “proxy war” in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the 1980s, Pakistan paid a very high price. Jihadist elements were nurtured by both the US and Pakistan during this conflict, added Asif. “Don’t blame us for Saeed, these people were your darlings 20 years ago, they were being dined and wined in the White House. Now you say go to hell, Pakistan,” said Asif. . Asif said his “heart bleeds” seeing what Pakistan has become today.
“We justified jihad because it suited our friends the US, because they wanted to kick Russia out. In the process our ethos was destroyed. It makes my heart bleed. Some things have become irreversible…people you are naming, people Trump is talking about, some of these things can’t be reversed overnight cause we developed that culture and ethos deliberately…We are paying a very heavy price.”
To a question on what his reaction was to US President Donald Trump’s savage takedown of Pakistan in August , Asif said: “Not very pleasant”. He said despite Pakistan standing with US over decades, it was being made a scapegoat for US failures in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan has stood firmly with the US during the war against the USSR in Afghanistan – which I personally believe was wrong, a proxy war – then we were used and discarded. In the 60s we were in your (US) camp, in the 70s and early 90s sanctions were imposed on us. Despite heartbreaks we still stood with the US,” said Asif.
Pakistan’s foreign minister then scoffed at Trump’s comment that the US has given Pakistan “billions and billions of dollars” in financial aid .
“No billions of dollars were dished out to us, that was money for services rendered. No billions of dollars,” he said. Then he quickly added: “…But I’m here to mend fences.”
It would have been good if he had a face to face interaction with Ms Christine Fair when he told these statements. She would have torn his argument apart by giving facts, dates and figures which his defence actually lacked. Ms Fair is known not only to confront Pakistani Journalists but also diplomats and civilians when they try to blame US for their present situation.