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Pakistan Tells US They Are Not Looking For US Financial Aid

Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa has told the American ambassador that his country is not looking for material or financial assistance from the US.

KARACHI – The Pakistani military on Wednesday reacted strongly to US threats of aid cuts to pressure the country on counter-terrorism efforts, with army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa saying the war on terror would be conducted in line with national interests and not to “appease anyone”.

Bajwa made the remarks during a meeting with US ambassador David Hale, who called on the army chief at the general headquarters in Rawalpindi to brief him about the new US policy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

“We are not looking for any material or financial assistance from USA but trust, understanding and acknowledgement of our contributions,” Bajwa was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the military’s media arm.

His remarks were an apparent response to secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s comments on Tuesday that the US has some leverage, in terms of aid and Islamabad’s status as a non-NATO alliance partner, to pressure Pakistan to do more to counter terrorism and help bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table.

The statement quoted Bajwa as saying that “peace in Afghanistan is as important for Pakistan as for any other country”. He added, “We have done a lot towards that end and shall keep on doing our best, not to appease anyone but in line with our national interest and national policy.”

Bajwa also said “collaboration and synergy of effort between all stakeholders is the key to success to bring this long drawn war in Afghanistan to its logical conclusion”.

Hale said the US “values Pakistan’s role in the war against terror and is seeking cooperation from Pakistan to resolve the Afghan issue”.

Earlier, Pakistan rejected Trump’s criticism of the country for harbouring terrorists and said the Kashmir issue is the “primary obstacle” to peace and stability in the region.

While unveiling his new policy for Afghanistan on Monday, Trump signalled a toughening of the US position on Pakistan for sheltering terror groups. He also spoke of working more closely with India, which he called on to provide more economic aid to Afghanistan.

In a terse reaction to Trump’s remarks, the Foreign Office advised the US to work with Pakistan to eradicate terrorism “instead of relying on the false narrative of safe havens”.

Foreign minister Khawaja Asif also rejected the US criticism, saying Pakistan should not be blamed for the failure of the US military.

“They should not make Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures in Afghanistan,” Asif told Geo News channel. “Our commitment to war against terrorism is unmatched and unshaken.”

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