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'Pakistan needs to improve its narrative': Politicians, analysts weigh in on Trump statement

https://www.dawn.com/news/1380157/pakistan-needs-to-improve-its-narrative-politicians-analysts-weigh-in-on-trump-statement


Dawn.comUpdated January 02, 2018

Weighing in on United States President Donald Trump's new year's tweet stating Pakistan has given the US "nothing but lies and deceit", analysts and politicians have stressed on Pakistan responding with a much stronger narrative to counter Trump's allegations.

US should hold its own people accountable: Khawaja Asif

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif responded to Trump's tweet saying: “the United States should hold its own people accountable for its failures in Afghanistan.”

“We have already said 'no more' to America, so Trump's 'no more' has no importance. We are ready to give all account for every single penny to America in public,” Asif was quoted as saying by Geo TV.

“America is frustrated over its defeat in Afghanistan. America should perhaps take the path of dialogue instead of using military might,” the foreign minister advised.

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Pakistan fully capable of defending its motherland: Khurram Dastagir

Minister for Defence Khurram Dastagir said Pakistan was fully capable of defending its motherland.

Commenting on Trump's tweet, he said Pakistan had extended unprecedented cooperation to the US in defeating Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan besides fighting the war against terrorism. Pakistan did not have any safe haven for terrorists, he maintained.

Instead, terrorists from Afghanistan have repeatedly targeted our armed forces and civilians, he said.

He made it clear that Afghanistan's war would not be fought from the soil of Pakistan.

Challenges Pakistan faces not being highlighted: Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Former foreign minister and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: "Pakistan has to move forward taking into account its own interests, irrespective of whether it gets US aid or not."

He added that Pakistan needs to look to regional powers like China, Iran, Turkey and even the European Union who understand regional situation and Pakistan's position much better.

Although Pakistan has presented its narrative time and again, there is a lot of room for its improvement, Qureshi said. "US allies can be taken into confidence, but that is not happening.

"Unfortunately the challenges Pakistan faces — national or international — are not being addressed," he said.

He criticised the delay in the government's response on the situation as he said Trump's statement should have been preempted.

Qureshi also criticised Trump's use of Twitter on a matter as serious as foreign affairs. "Foreign relations have their own importance and tweets could create further confusions."

Gaps in diplomacy should be filled: Sherry Rehman

Former ambassador the US and PPP Senator Sherry Rehman pointed to the gaps in Pakistan's foreign policy, which she said were the foremost reason Pakistan was in a difficult situation internationally.

Due to the lack of a dedicated lobbyist in the US and a foreign minister, Pakistan had left the ground completely for four years, Rehman said.

"The gaps should be filled. The world can see the lack of governance and is taking advantage of how Pakistan has not responded."

She said Pakistan needs to have a balanced stance and neither be too aggressive nor too defensive in formulating a reply to the US.

"It is very difficult to move forward in this kind of environment," she said, adding that she could foresee a new era of foreign policy where "such things are said and such demands are made."

"There is also a lot of confusion on the American side and things will keep on getting worse if sober voices in the US do not control this," she added.

All political parties should unite on this, Marriyum Aurangzeb

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said the US should not put the blame for its failure in Afghanistan on Pakistan.

In an interview with Radio Pakistan, the state-run-radio service, she said Pakistan has rendered unmatched sacrifices in the war against terrorism. Aurangzeb also invited all political parties to stand united on the issue of national security.

The minister further clarified that the record was available for all the aid Pakistan has so far received from the US, adding that “sensitive issues should not be discussed through tweets”.

Trump statement no surprise: Zahid Hussain

"We have been seeing for a while that Trump's attitude is getting stricter, so this statement is no surprise," analyst Zahid Hussain said.

"Pakistan has other options," he added, saying Pakistan can sustain itself without US aid just as it had during the 1990s, when it faced all sorts of sanctions from the US and the rest of the world.

"We should maintain self sustenance and respect," he said.

Hussain also stressed that the US needs to have a better policy on Afghanistan and should focus on what to do in the neighbouring country.

"An improvement in Afghanistan's situation is in Pakistan's interest," he said.

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