A senior aide of the prime minister on foreign affairs on Monday complained that there was a lack of ‘sufficient appreciation’ of Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts in the United States.
PM’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi made these remarks while welcoming a two-member professional delegation from the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) of the US Congress in Islamabad on Monday.
According to the Foreign Office, the delegation comprised Kristen Marquardt and Sajit Gandhi.
Fatemi noted that their visit to Pakistan was timely and important as it provided an opportunity to the Congressional staff members to exchange views with authorities in Pakistan on areas of mutual interest, and assess the situation on ground concerning Pakistan’s committed efforts on various fronts.
He particularly highlighted the fact that there was a “lack of sufficient appreciation for Pakistan’s whole-hearted efforts it was undertaking jointly with the US administration, in countering the threat posed by terrorism.”
Fatemi said the government and people of Pakistan also desired that their sincere efforts and sacrifices in confronting serious security threats, in an increasingly complex regional situation, should be appreciated, at all levels.
“This expectation was more from our friends in the US, who have been our close aides and partners all along on these issues and better understand the nature and complexity of the challenges faced by Pakistan,” Fatemi noted.
His comments come as Pakistan has in recent weeks been accused by senior US officials and by some elected representatives in the Congress of not doing enough to address safe haven of groups which have been targeting Afghanistan.
“Topics concerning reduction in US defence and civilian assistance to Pakistan and Congressional hold on some already approved funds were also deliberated upon,” the Foreign Office said while referring to the cut in aid for Pakistan in the recent budgetary announcements and blocking funds for some programmes.
Last week, a sub-committee of the HFAC blocked funds meant to subsidise Pakistan’s purchase of eight F-16 fighter jets from the Lockheed Martin Corporation worth $700 million. Fatemi also briefed the delegation in detail about Pakistan’s continued efforts together with the US, China and Afghanistan to promote peace in Afghanistan through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process.
Further, he highlighted that Pakistan has taken a clear lead in strengthening its relations with neighbouring countries, with the ultimate objective to achieve regional stability, peace, harmony and prosperity through enhanced economic linkages, connectivity and cooperation.
“Pakistan has shown utmost sincerity, in difficult circumstances, in taking action against all terror outfits in the country, for improvement of its relations with India, as well as to contribute positively in the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan,” he added.
The delegation noted that US recognises Pakistan has done a great deal in addressing various security challenges, primarily in its own interest.
They reiterated that the efforts by the US to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity in its counter terrorism efforts, through continued provision of military equipment and assistance with approval of the US Congress, was a testimony to the strength of Pakistan-US bilateral relations.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2016.