Pakistan has asked the US to address its strategic concerns in the region, including in Kashmir, instead of trying to restore the suspended security assistance, according to a media report on Monday.
The ties between the two countries have come under strain in recent months after US President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of providing safe havens to militants. The Trump administration recently suspended about $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan over its failure to rein in militant groups.
The Express Tribune reported that while the US demands seeking action against the Haqqani network are known, Pakistan has put forth its list of demands, asking Washington to take into account its concerns related to Afghanistan and other regional issues. “Contrary to public perception, Pakistan is not keen to seek restoration of security assistance suspended by the US recently,” it reported.
“Instead, Islamabad wants that the Trump administration must not only listen to its concerns on Afghanistan and wider region but also help redress them.”
Pakistan’s concerns, according to officials, are two-fold: one, directly related to Afghanistan, and the second about the US overall strategy for the South Asian region. On Afghanistan, Islamabad has conveyed to Washington that its enormous sacrifices in the fight against terrorism need to be acknowledged. But at the same, the US needs to reorient its approach including on the Afghan refugees.
While Pakistan has repeatedly denied charges that it is providing any sanctuary to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, it does acknowledge that some elements may be using its soil because of the presence of a large number of Afghan refugees. In order to plug that loophole, Pakistan during the ongoing discussions with the US had suggested a workable solution under which those refugees are repatriated.
Pakistan believes that repatriation of Afghan refugees can significantly deny insurgent groups any space on its soil. Islamabad is also upset over the Trump Administration’s approach putting the Kashmir issue on the back burner. “Such an approach has a direct bearing on efforts for regional peace,” said a senior Foreign Office official, adding that Washington could not distance itself from the Indo-Pak tensions.
The official confirmed that Pakistan had made it clear to the US that it needed to take a ‘holistic view’ of the current regional situation. “Our genuine concerns can’t be brushed aside,” the official maintained.