ISLAMABAD – Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif will embark on a three-nation regional tour next week to muster support for Pakistan in the wake of Trump’s new policy for Afghanistan.
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The dates for the trip to China, Russia and Turkey are being worked out.
The decision to send Asif to three allies of Pakistan was taken at a meeting of the National Security Committee on Thursday, which deliberated on the new US policy and formulated the response.
Due to the tour, foreign minister’s previously scheduled trip to the US for bilateral talks with his counterpart, Rex Tillerson, has been delayed.
FO spokesman Nafees Zakaria detailed that the Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif will be visiting regional countries for consultations.
“First of all, we have long-standing relationship with the US. We have worked with the United States for a long time. Our areas of cooperation are diverse and multi-dimensional. I would not endorse your views about parting ways,” he said, adding the “difference of opinion” and “misperceptions” could be addressed through dialogue.
Pakistani diplomats believe that the tri-nation tour will send a strong message to the US that Pakistan could not be coerced and that the country enjoys broad support in the region.
Both Moscow and Beijing took aim at the US position on Pakistan and insisted that Pakistan’s importance for peace in Afghanistan and its sacrifices in the fight against terrorism needed to be recognised.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised Pakistan’s “great sacrifices” in the fight against terrorism and urged their acknowledgement by the world.
Meanwhile, Russian President’s Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said that Pakistan was “a key regional player to negotiate with” and warned that undue pressure on it could “seriously destabilise the region’s security situation”.
The latest country to throw weight behind Pakistan is Iran as Iranian foreign ministry in a statement denounced the new strategy adopted by the US towards Pakistan and blamed Washington’s opportunistic strategies and unilateral and meddlesome policies for growth in terrorism and extremism in the region.
In his first speech to the nation as commander-in-chief on Monday, Donald Trump took a harsh stance against Pakistan alleging it of a softer stance against militants.
‘Our commitment is not limited [and] our support is not a blank cheque,’ he said.
Besides alleging Pakistan of providing safe havens to terrorists, Trump also cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops to Afghanistan, backtracking from his promise to evacuate the war-torn region.
On the other hand, the Foreign Office (FO) on Tuesday rejected Donald Trump’s allegations saying “the policy ignores the enormous sacrifices rendered by the Pakistani nation” urging Washington to work with Islamabad against terrorism “instead of relying on false narrative of safe havens.”