Don’t consider Trump tweet official US policy: PM Abbasi

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said Pakistan does not feel that the US president’s tweet blasting it for providing safe havens to terrorists constitutes official US policy.
“It has to come through an official document or an official meeting to constitute official policy, in our opinion,” the prime minister said in an interview with the Washington Post.
When asked what his response would be to the tweet, PM Abbasi said “the ground realities do not support what President Trump is saying” and reiterated that Pakistan is committed to fighting the war against terror.
“There are no two ways about it. We have assisted the US forces and will continue to assist them. There have been over 1.1 million overflights within our airspace — US aircraft going to Afghanistan and fighting the war there. There have been millions of tons of equipment and cargo going there. There has not been a single instance where if actual intelligence has been provided [to us], it has not been acted upon.”
The prime minister said that the two countries have had good relations in the past 15 years but ties have suffered significantly after Donald Trump’s tweet.
The relations started to suffer after US’ raid in Abbottabad, he said. “Pakistan’s sovereignty was affected. There was a big cry in the public that this is not acceptable. Nobody disputed that Osama was a wanted criminal, but Pakistan should have been informed.”
The prime minister disputed that US was giving any kind of aid to Pakistan, saying that CSF basically reimburses expenditure incurred by Pakistan “that are made in support of US forces in Afghanistan”. The security assistance provided by the US was minimal, he said.
He reiterated that Pakistan has been fighting the war for years and has lost civilians and soldiers to terrorism, besides the economic cost.
“Even today, Pakistan is fighting the largest war on terror in the world. We have 200,000 troops fighting a war against terror today on the western border. We have lost 6,500 troops. We have defeated the same enemy the rest of the world failed to defeat in Afghanistan, on the same terrain, with our own resources.”
When asked whether Pakistan will continue to allow US supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan, PM said that supply will not be interrupte because that helps in the war against terror.
“It helps bring stability to Pakistan, so we support that effort. We have taken our territory back. We have destroyed the sanctuaries.”
He also said there are no terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan but if intelligence points towards any, Pakistan will take action.

“On the ground, the reality is that in the last year, 29 suicide bombers crossed over from Afghanistan into Pakistan and attacked our installations.”

The PM on being asked about possible solutions to end Afghan conflict said that all “war is not a solution”. “The Afghans have to sit down and resolve their problems…The US and Pakistan should facilitate the peace process.”
When asked what message would he like to give to Trump, PM Abbasi said that the US president needs to look at Pakistan’s viewpoint.
“The reality of Pakistan is very different from the perception he has. Pakistan is a US ally. It is a partner against the same enemy, which is terror.”
Even today, he added, we continue to provide the United States with air and ground logistics for Afghanistan without any contract or payment, he said.
Commenting on China-Pakistan relations, the PM said that the relationship between the two countries is 70 years old and is ever growing. The two have military and economic cooperation and are taking it forward with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
China will continue to do more investments in Pakistan, he said, adding that it is not a gift but an assistance programme to help Pakistan finance projects.
“Cooperation with US companies continues on a secondary level,” he added.
Commenting on the measures taken by Pakistan to stop cross-border infiltration, the prime minister said Pakistan has started fencing border on its side, and is spending billions on the project.
“The reality is that most of the area that borders Pakistan is controlled by the Taliban. The government has minimal control there. There is a 2,000-plus-kilometer border with Afghanistan. I can tell you that in 700 of those kilometers there is not a single Afghan soldier or a post. Drug trafficking is at the highest level we have seen in 50 years. They cross over the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan,” he added.