ISLAMABAD: Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif said on Monday that Pakistan would explore other options to meet its defence needs, if the deal for F-16s did not materialise with the United States.
Talking to journalists after addressing a two-day international conference, he said that Pakistan was an independent and sovereign state and it could acquire defence related products from other suitable markets of the world.
The conference titled ‘Refugee crisis and its ramifications for global and national security’ was organised by South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) University in collaboration with the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), National Security Division and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
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The minister said ups and downs in the bilateral relations of Pakistan and the US were not an unusual matter, but the overall ties between the two countries were better.
Answering a question, Asif said Shakeel Afridi was a citizen of Pakistan and he was being tried in Pakistani courts, adding that no one would be allowed to interfere in internal matters of the country.
He said durable peace in Afghanistan was of great importance for Pakistan.
Afghan border issue
Earlier addressing the conference, Asif said that Pakistan shared 2,560km porous border with Afghanistan with over 200 unfrequented routes, which served as points for illicit trafficking of weapons, drugs and humans. "Around 24,000 people from Afghanistan are crossing from Khyber Agency alone per day and majority of them travel without any legal documentation," he pointed out.
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He said the border management was a priority for Pakistan.
Regarding the threats by the Afghan military hierarchy to carry out ‘hot pursuit’ in Pakistani territory, the defence minister said that any such action would get a befitting counter response.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2016.
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