Defense Minister’s statement

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Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir said Pakistan’s vigilant and highly-trained armed forces will continue to protect and defend the land, sea and air borders of the country. Making a policy statement during a National Assembly session, the minister informed the house that Indian forces had committed more than 1,300 ceasefire violations in 2017 at the Line of Control which resulted in 52 deaths and injuries to 175 persons.

The NA held a discussion on foreign and defence policies of the government while leaving the legislative business unattended due to a lack of quorum. The deputy speaker presided over the sitting in the absence of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. However, Leader of the Opposition was present in the sitting.

The defence minister said that Pakistan has paid a huge price in the war against terrorism and has successfully cleared its territory of the terrorists.

Dastgir said that the Indian government had accelerated Pakistan-bashing as a highly militarised and belligerent neighbour. The case of spy Kulbushan Jadhav was proof of the Indian efforts for unrest in other countries, he added. He said the government would meet with vigour and commitment the growing challenges to Pakistan’s security and towards maintaining strategic stability in the region. Commenting on the situation concerning to Afghanistan, Dastgir said Pakistan considered Afghanistan as a sovereign neighbour which shared abiding bonds of history, trade and culture. He said Pakistan respected sovereignty of Afghanistan and wished to see it prosper as a democratic state, but Pakistan would like this courtesy to be reciprocated.

The minister said that United States has been fighting in Afghanistan for last 16 years but failed to achieve the targets while adding that Pakistan should not be made a scapegoat for the US failures in the region. He said the way forward for Pak-US relations should not be through threats, notices and suspension of support.

He said that Pakistan had suffered a huge loss in the war against terrorism as an ally to the United States. Pakistan had to face economic loss and damage to lives and property of the citizens. Defense Minster should present Pakistan’s more clear position because the statement was lacking clarity. It is the right time the Pakistan should set its policies and priorities according to its own interests. Pakistan needs clear policy regarding United States because it is again trying to apply its infamous carrot and stick policy on Pakistan. On the other hand India is involved in naked aggression against Pakistan and continuously targeting population along line of control. United States with the help of India is trying to increase pressure on Pakistan. In these circumstances government should evolve comprehensive policy with the consultation of all stakeholders.

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