US Claims on Multi-Bln Aid to Pakistan to Fight Terror Contradict Facts – Envoy
AP Photo/ Anjum NaveedWorld11:30 29.01.2018(updated 11:35 29.01.2018) Get short URL
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The statements of the United States regarding its multi-million assistance to Pakistan to counter terrorism are not reliable and contradict facts, Pakistani Ambassador to Russia Qazi Khalilullah told Sputnik in an interview.
“The people and the Government of Pakistan were therefore deeply disappointed and hurt by the offensive allegations made in the recent provocative statements by the United States leadership, which were completely incomprehensible as they contradicted facts manifestly. They also ignored the enormous sacrifices rendered by the people of Pakistan while fighting terrorism,” Khalilullah said.
The ambassador stressed that Islamabad’s fight against terrorism had costed lives of 70,000 citizens, including 6,500 military and law enforcement personnel, while the country’s economy lost more than $120 billion.
“The claims of billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan are also misleading. About half of the total amount is reimbursements to Pakistan since 2001 rather than any financial aid or assistance. The reimbursements only account for part of the cost of ground facilities and air corridors of Pakistan used by the United States for its operations in Afghanistan,” Khalilullah noted.
The statement comes nearly a month after US President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of providing a “safe haven to the terrorists” despite his country’s multi-billion assistance to Pakistan.
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Several day later, the US Department of State stated that Pakistan was not being aggressive enough in attacking the Afghan Taliban terrorist group or the Haqqani Network (affiliated with al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorist groups, both banned in Russia) and announced the suspension of security assistance to Islamabad.
The ambassador further said that reports about the flow of Daesh militants from Syria and Iraq to Pakistan’s territory were incorrect.
“We have seen reports about Daesh fighters from Syria and Iraq having gone to several countries of the region. However, one has to make a distinction between reports and evidence. There is no evidence of such fighters having gone to any part of Pakistan. Let me also categorically state that Daesh does not have organized presence in Pakistan,” Khalilullah said.
The ambassador noted that Pakistan, including its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, was not attractive to terrorists, since the Pakistani security forces had been conducting “Zarb-e-Azb” and “Radd-ul Fasaad” anti-terrorist operations in the area for several years, adding that the operations had costed Pakistan $2 billion.
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Khalilullah stressed that terrorism posed a threat the security of all countries, and therefore relevant representatives of Russia and Pakistan were in constant contact.
“As coordinated efforts are required to eliminate this menace, Pakistan and Russian officials dealing with security issues remain in contact and also exchange information and visits … As far as interaction between Pakistan and Russia on counter-terrorism is concerned, it takes place within the framework of a Consultative Mechanism on Counter-Terrorism existing between the two countries,” the ambassador said.
In October, Andrey Novikov, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States Anti-Terrorism Center, told Sputnik that Daesh militants suffering losses in Syria were relocating to Pakistan’s province of Waziristan. He noted that relocation of significant IS forces from Syria to Iraq to the territory of Waziristan with further redistribution had been observed since the fall of 2016.
On Cooperation With Russia
According to the official, Islamabad wanted to further enhance its cooperation with Russia and strengthen ties in various areas, including counterterrorism.
“Pakistan is fully capable of combating terrorism on its soil. We have proven this to the world through ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ and ‘Radd-ul Fasaad’ operations against terrorists and extremists … Our [operations are] a success story. Pakistan has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience while successfully combating and eliminating terrorism. We are willing to share it with others,” the diplomat noted, adding that the country intended to boost defense industry cooperation with Moscow and was studying various systems of Russian weapons for new purchases.
“Russian weapon systems compete well with the similar systems produced by other countries and are looked at favourably by defence planners in Pakistan. The Armed Forces of Pakistan are therefore in the process of evaluating various Russian weapon platforms for possible procurement,” the diplomat said.
Khalilullah noted that cooperation between Pakistan and Russia in the defense sphere had been steadily increasing and was marked by frequent high-level contacts.
“We wish to further deepen cooperation with Russia in this important field,” he concluded.
The envoy continued by saying that Islamabad intended to participate in the next meetings of the Moscow format dialogue on Afghanistan and in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) joint anti-terror military exercises dubbed the Peace Mission-2018, which are due to take place in Russia in September.
“I understand that Peace Mission-2018 is being held within the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Pakistan attaches importance to all SCO activities. We therefore participated in the 1st round of expert staff talks relating to Peace Mission-2018, held in Ekaterinburg in November 2017, and intend to participate in the exercise this year,” Khalilullah said.
The ambassador added that the defense industry cooperation between Pakistan and Russia had also steadily increased amid frequent high-level contacts.
“Military-technical cooperation between Pakistan and Russia has also strengthened over the years. We wish to further deepen cooperation with Russia in this important field,” the diplomat said.
On Pricing of Russian Gas
The senior official noted that Moscow and Islamabad had not yet agreed on tariffs for the North-South gas pipeline in Pakistan, the sides were planning to hold the fifth meeting of the Joint Coordination (JCC) in Moscow in February.
“It is one of the open issues,” the ambassador said, when asked whether the sides agreed on tariffs.
Khalilullah noted that there was “no room for speculation” about the project’s future, stressing that Russia and Pakistan remained committed to the implementation of the pipeline agreement, though “work remains to be done on issues that are still open.” He also added that the both sides’ commitment was proved by multiple bilateral meetings, including the fifth JCC meeting that was due to take place in February.
“Let me add that there is a Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) for monitoring implementation of the North-South Gas Pipeline Project. It has already held four meetings. The 5th meeting is expected to be held soon in Moscow. Both sides will review the status of the project during that meeting … Hopefully [the meeting will take place] in February. It was scheduled to be held in December 2017, but was postponed to the beginning of 2018,” Khalilullah said.
The intergovernmental agreement on the gas pipeline construction was signed by Russia and Pakistan in 2015. The project is implemented by RT-Global Resources, part of Rostec corporation.