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Hafiz Saeed, Lashkar a liability, admits Pakistan Foreign Minister

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif. File   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The United States shares the responsibility for the rise of ''jihad'' in South Asia, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told an audience in New York, adding that Islamabad’s cooperation in Washington's proxy war against the erstwhile Soviet Union was what brought upon the current turmoil in his country.

At an interaction in the Asia Society, Mr. Asif accused the U.S. of using Pakistan for its strategic objectives and then discarding it.

“Pakistan has stood very firmly with the U.S. in the Soviet war, which was a wrong decision. It was a proxy war. We were used and discarded,” the Minister said, refusing to accept the entire blame for the rise of Islamism and terrorism in the region. “It is a collective sin or mistake that we made. You should not have left the way you did after the end of the Cold War,” he said, adding “we have made mistakes.”

President Donald Trump’s new policy towards the region, in which he blamed Pakistan for terrorism “wasn’t surprising but disappointing.”

Hafiz Saeed, Lashkar a liability, admits Pakistan Foreign Minister
 

Mr. Asif said some statements made by Mr. Trump were “blatant lies.” “…no billions of dollars have been dished out to us,” he said. “It was money which was reimbursed for the services we rendered to the U.S. and its allies,” he said, referring to the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) that the U.S. gives to Pakistan for the Afghan war. Pakistan receives the U.S. support under other heads also.

The Minister said the current ''jihadis'' in his country were all nurtured by the U.S. in the war against the Soviets. “Don’t blame us for the Haqqanis or the Hafiz Saeeds. These were people who were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back. They were being dined and wined in the White House and now you say go to hell Pakistanis because you are nurturing these people.”

When the moderator suggested that they talk about the future and not the past, Mr. Asif shot back: “You cannot divorce history just to move forward. They [the militants] are a liability and it will take time for Pakistan to work its way through that.” “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.”

According to him, the U.S.'s actions were reducing Pakistan’s ability to deal with terrorism.

Before Pakistan joined the war against the former Soviet Union, it was a liberal country where people of all faiths and sects could live together.

“Sunnis, Shias, Christians, Hindus… all could live together. They were all Pakistanis. Now people change their names ...[to protect their identity] This is a tragedy…Please don’t blame us for the tragedy that we are in...Share this agony and anguish with us,” he said.

It was to suit the U.S.'s interests in the region that Pakistan turned into promotion of 'jihad'. “.. what we did to justify the 'jihad' in 1980, we reversed everything...Because that suited then our friends, the Americans. In that process our ethos was destroyed and the whole generation of my country is paying a very heavy price.”

Mr. Asif criticised India for disengaging with Pakistan. The ''targeting'' of minorities in India would lead to further instability in the region. “No country has a larger stake in seeing peace return to Afghanistan than Pakistan,” but it has its limits in resolving a crisis that remains unresolved despite the intervention of the richest and the most powerful countries in the world.''

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 4:38:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-shares-blame-for-rise-of-jihadis-says-pakistan/article19764116.ece

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