The U.S. shares the responsibility for the rise of jihad in South Asia, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told an audience in New York. He tried to bring back the focus on Islamabad’s cooperation in America’s proxy war against the Soviet Union is what brought upon the current turmoil in his country.
During an interaction at the Asia Society, Asif accused America 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.”
The Minister said President Donald Trump’s new policy towards the region, in which he blamed Pakistan for terrorism “wasn’t surprising but disappointing.”
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 USA and its allies,” he said, referring to the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) that America gives to Pakistan for the Afghan war. Pakistan receives American support under other heads also.
The Pakistan Foreign Minister said the current jihadis in his country were all nurtured by America during 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. The militantas 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.”
He criticised India for disengaging with Pakistan and added that 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, the Minister said.