Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Saturday that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, during his recent visit to the country, did not make any new demands, except requesting Pakistan to clear sanctuaries of the militants on its soil.
In an interview with 24 News channel, he said that the reports regarding the US submitting a list of 75 wanted terrorists were incorrect and baseless. He said that the demands forwarded by Tillerson were the same as before, on which they told them that all the sanctuaries have been destroyed.
Prime Minister Abbasi said that Pakistan’s official stance during the meeting was the same as shared with the Senate, National Assembly and National Security Committee. He said that Tillerson was told during the meeting that Pakistan was a staunch ally in the war on terror and had sacrificed the most to cleanse the region of militancy.
Pakistan was the only country in the region which wanted peace to return to Afghanistan, he said, adding that the two neighbouring countries should resolve all their issues through peaceful dialogue, not through non-state actors. Regarding the issue of effectively manning the Pak-Afghan border, he said that the government has time and again reminded the Afghan government to fence their side of the border in a similar manner that Pakistan had done.
He said that 600 kilometres of the Afghan border was still unmanned, resulting in smuggling of arms and drugs into Pakistan. Talking about the US demand to Pakistan to deliver more, the prime minister said that the Washington now realised that Islamabad has been telling them the truth since the beginning since ground realities remain more or less the same.
He said that Pakistan has reminded the US to provide with information regarding terrorist sanctuaries if any existed. He said that the recovery of the Canadian couple from the militants was achieved through intelligence-sharing with the US. He said that, principally, the vehicle should have been intercepted on the Afghan side of the border.
He also said that traffic coming from Afghan side was being constantly monitored by Pakistan. Abbasi also said that Pakistan had been hosting millions of Afghan refugees and provided them the freedom to do business and travel freely across the country. If the world cares about their well-being, they should also become a part of the refugee rehabilitation process and help them settle in Afghanistan, he maintained.
He said that if ISAF forces could not win the Afghan war in 15 years, the task would be difficult to achieve for 10,000 to 15,000 US soldiers stationed in the country. Speaking in reference to Pakistan’s decision not to allow US boots on the ground, he said that the US had never made such request nor intended to do so.
He said that Afghan and the US forces should operate against Fazlullah, whose militants have been launching attacks on Pakistani security forces from the Afghan side. He said that Afghanistan’s attempts to defame the country on international forums would not bear fruit since dialogue was the only way forward.
Regarding his recent meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, he said they meet regularly to discuss political matters. He denied that MNA Hamza Shehbaz was a part of the meeting, saying that only Shehbaz Sharif was present in the meeting.
Regarding Federal Minister Riaz Pirzada’s statement about rifts in the PML-N, Abbasi said that he has been hearing such rumours since the past 30 years and no new reality has come out after July 28 decision. “Our party is on the same platform as before and has not lost political space,” he said.
He said if a person had differences with the party they could either leave the party by using the right forum, instead of addressing journalists, or fight as independent candidates. He suggested that the Parliamentary Party Committee should be approached in this regard.
Regarding Nawaz Sharif not appearing before the NAB court, he said that he did appear before the court, and, in fact, would appear for court proceedings on the next hearing. He said that the way NAB was handling Nawaz’s case was raising suspicions and making the Supreme Court’s decision seem ambiguous.
“Whenever such modalities are used which are not ordinary or normal, they naturally raise suspicions,” he said and called for across-the-board accountability. Regarding framing former ruler Pervez Musharraf, the prime minister said that he left the country on court orders, and only court orders can bring him back. “Supreme Court should take suo moto case against Musharraf’s properties and millions of dollars earned abroad,” he added.
He said that removing his name from ECL meant he was given a free run. Regarding the attack on journalist Ahmed Noorani, he said it was an unfortunate incident and a committee has been formed; if the result was not reached, the judicial commission should be formed.
“Journalists are respectable to us,” he said, adding that the missing persons’ case should also be investigated.