Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has defended her country’s intelligence agencies in fighting terrorism amid a row with the U.S. over allegations that the ISI had backed the Haqqani network in carrying out high-profile terror attacks.
Pakistan is determined to eliminate the “spectre of terrorism” from its soil and it is “keenly aware” of the threat that terrorism poses to its neighbours, Ms. Khar said.
Addressing the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Ms. Khar said very few countries have been ravaged by the “monster of terrorism” as “brutally” as Pakistan has been.
Defending the role of country’s intelligence agencies, amid a row with the U.S. over ISI’s link with the dreaded Haqqani network, Ms. Khar said, “Notable success against al-Qaeda and its affiliates has been registered in recent years. It is well known that following the Tora Bora bombing and consequent dispersal of al-Qaeda, it was Pakistan’s intelligence and security agencies that interdicted a large number of al-Qaeda operatives. Very recently, Yousuf Al Mauritani, the Chief Operative of al-Qaeda was arrested in a joint ISI and CIA operation.”
“If I began recounting Pakistan’s sacrifices and Pakistan’s suffering, I would keep you here till next September. We do not take terrorism lightly. We cannot to afford to take terrorism lightly, we have suffered far too much at its hand,” she said.
U.S. military chief Admiral Mike Mullen had described the Haqqani network as a “veritable arm” of the ISI.
With terrorists attacking the “very idea of Pakistan,” Ms. Khar said her country “is united in its determination to eliminate the spectre of terrorism from our soil, from our region and the world. It is Pakistan’s firm determination not to allow any space on its territory for militants and terrorists.”
She was quick to add that other countries in the region must also “pledge” that their respective territories will not be allowed to be used by terrorists against other nations.
“We are keenly aware about the threat terrorism poses to Pakistan, to Pakistan neighbours, or to the rest of the world,” she said, adding that it is important to enhance international cooperation to obliterate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
Terming terrorism as a global issue, Ms. Khar said the problem of organising, financing, arming, supporting and abetting terrorist violence needs to be addressed seriously and effectively.
“Pakistan’s commitment to eliminating terror and militancy is irrevocable. We believe that this warrants a comprehensive approach not only to deal with violence but also its root causes. This requires enhancing international cooperation in multiple domains,” she said.
On its part, Pakistan has reached out to all countries of the world to establish mechanisms and arrangements ranging from intelligence cooperation, mutual assistance in legal and criminal matters as well as joint operations.