Huge trust deficit between Islamabad, Washington: Foreign Minister

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ISLAMABA: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said that there is a “huge trust deficit” between Pakistan and the United States over the conflict in Afghanistan.
Asif was speaking to the BBC after meeting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday.
Tillerson is the first senior US official to visit Pakistan after President Trump accused the country of providing “safe havens” to the terrorists.
During his meeting with Pakistani officials, the US secretary of state repeated Trump’s call for Pakistan to do more to eradicate militant groups within its territory. He also described Islamabad as ‘incredibly important’ player to deal with some of the pressing challenges facing the region.
Foreign Minister Asif reiterated that there are no “safe havens” in Pakistan. “They do not need our territory anymore. Almost 40 per cent of Afghan territory is now under the direct control of the Taliban,” he said.
The BBC report quoting US military sources said the Taliban control about 10 per cent of Afghanistan and contest some 30 per cent of the country.
Both, the US and Afghan officials believe the militants are able to use sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan to plan attacks in Afghanistan, he added. Asif blamed the ‘ineptitude’ of US and international forces in Afghanistan for not ending the conflict.
He also dismissed the possibility of economic sanctions being levelled against Pakistan by the US if his country is not deemed to be ‘doing enough’ to tackle the Taliban.
Pakistan only received “a trickle” of economic assistance from the US, said the foreign minister. “We do not get any military hardware from them [US]. We are not like in the past when we were their proxy.” “Having said that there is a willingness on both sides to bridge this [trust] deficit,” Khawaja Asif added.
“Yes there is a trust deficit,” the foreign minister continued, “but we are talking.” “They [US] must do some self-accountability also. Why have they lost 45 per cent of the Afghan territory in the last 10, 12 years,” Asif questioned.

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