Pakistan’s role is very crucial for long-term stability of South Asia

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, after meeting Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said Pakistan is very crucial for the long-term stability of South Asian region not only for Afghanistan.

“Not just Afghanistan, but it is the importance of Pakistan and Pakistan’s long-term stability as well,” he remarked while speaking about US’s policy towards South Asia.

We want Pakistan’s government to be stable, peaceful.. many of the same issues they are struggling inside Pakistan are our issues. So we think there is an opportunity to strengthen that relationship.”

Pakistan’s relation with the US is “extraordinarily important”, he said.

We told the US that India’s role is unacceptable in the new Afghan policy, said Asif.

He also said that the allegation of harbouring terrorists in Pakistan was strongly rejected.

Asif added that he is hopeful that the two countries will jointly tackle issues and the US and other countries can play a positive role in this regard.

He also reiterated Pakistan’s stance on the need for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned political approach to achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The foreign minister said the meeting with Tillerson was cordial and the US secretary of state has accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan.

Earlier in his address, Tillerson had remarked: “Our approach to South Asia, specifically Afghanistan, is building relations with India and Pakistan to stamp out terrorism and support the Afghan government in providing security for their home people.”

He also remarked that the fate of Daesh is on the “brink of extinguishing” due to US President Donald Trump’s policy.

Tillerson added, “there is much to be done, we are just getting started.”

This was the first high-level meeting after Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met with the US vice-president in New York, last month.

Asif is accompanied by other dignitaries including, Pakistan Ambassador to US Aizaz Chaudhry, additional secretary America MOFA, director general America MOFA and deputy chief of mission Pakistan Embassy.

Asif is also expected meet with the US National Security Advisor Lieutenant General HR McMaster and discuss bilateral relations and the situation in Afghanistan and Kashmir, as well as the new policy of US on South Asia.

The foreign minister will also address a gathering at the US Institute of Peace (USIP), Washington, on Pakistan-US relations on October 5.

The bilateral visits of Pakistani and American diplomats were scheduled during the recent visit of PM Abbasi to the US.

Trump, in his speech announcing the revised US approach to Afghan war, had accused Pakistan of providing “safe haven” to militants, angering the ruling party and the opposition alike.