‘Planned trilateral talks contradict media assertions’
* Ambassador Haqqani says Pakistan, America and Afghanistan working together
WASHINGTON: Dismissing media assertions on Islamabad advising Kabul against cooperation with the US, Pakistan’s top diplomat in Washington said quite contrary to such fabrications the three countries are going to hold trilateral talks in early May for progress towards resolution of the Afghan conflict.
A three-way meeting in Islamabad is scheduled for May 3, Ambassador Hussain Haqqani said and was confident that the three countries would be able to move forward in a spirit of togetherness for a resolution of the decade-old Afghan war.
“Very interestingly, only last week, Ambassador Grossman (US special envoy for the region) and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir agreed that they are going to try and create a trilateral mechanism. They are having a meeting in Islamabad on May 3,” Haqqani told CNN in an appearance in the channels’ programme Situation Room.
Pakistan and the US have some disagreements on the way forward in Afghanistan, just as the Afghans and the US have, but they are working together.
The US has not failed either of the South Asian neighbours, the Pakistani envoy said in response to a specific question, while denying claims made in a story in The Wall Street Journal and some other parts of the media. Ambassador Haqqani also referred to Admiral Mike Mullen’s meetings with Pakistani military leaders and his own discussion with the US Central Command chief.
“We are very clear that this is just internal Afghan politics playing out in American newspapers,” he said of the news stories. The Pakistani envoy, answering a question, clarified that Islamabad does not look upon the US and China as rivals for its friendship.
“China is definitely an all-weather friend of Pakistan. We have been friends of China since 1949. We were the country that helped the US and China come close together.
We have never looked upon the US and China as rivals for our friendship,” he said, adding Islamabad respects its friendship with both powers. In the regional context, Haqqani said Pakistan and its western neighbour Afghanistan now enjoy a “warm relationship,” in contrast with the past nature of relations.
Besides, Pakistan is also working to build good relations with its eastern neighbour India, with whom it had major problems in the past, and which obstructed peace in the region.
“We will have a lot of such stories as we move forward. The key thing is that all three players — the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan — understand that the way forward is, we have to defeat some people in Afghanistan and we have to engage certain people,” the ambassador said. “We want to move forward as partners and friends.” He told anchor Wolf Blitzer that American assistance for Pakistan is in America’s own security interests.
“American aid to Pakistan is a means to ensuring American security. The September 11 incident happened because America turned its back on Pakistan and Afghanistan ignored what was happening there. Al Qaeda found a home in Afghanistan. So right now, it is not the time to cut assistance to either Pakistan or Afghanistan,” Haqqani said.
Source: Daily Times