Pakistan parliament condemns Trump’s “AfInPak” policy, rejects ‘hostile and threatening’ statements

Pakistan’s lower house of parliament (National Assembly) has unanimously passed a non-binding resolution calling on the government to consider cutting off NATO supply lines through Pakistan to the US-led NATO mission in neighboring Afghanistan, in response to recent US accusations that the country is harboring armed groups.

“The National Assembly regards President [Donald] Trump’s and General [John] Nicholson’s [the top US military commander in Afghanistan] statements on Pakistan as hostile and threatening,” said the resolution, passed in the capital, Islamabad, on Wednesday.

During the NA session, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif read out the resolution, which was earlier passed unanimously by the Senate (upper house).

The resolution categorically rejected Gen Nicolson’s claims regarding the existence of the Taliban shura in Peshawar and Quetta.

The NA also disapproved of the “unacceptable targeting of Pakistan” by Trump in his speech while he announced Washington’s new South Asia policy which clubs Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (AfInPAk) as crucial players for lasting peace in the region.

The resolution further rejected Trump’s claim that billions of dollars in aid have been spent on Pakistan, stating that Pakistan’s economy has suffered a loss of more than $123 billion. The resolution also denounced the “disregard of the immense sacrifices” made by Pakistan in the war on terror.

The lower house condemned Washington’s call for increased Indian involvement in Afghanistan due to “[India’s] known support to terrorists and destabilizing policies in the region”.

The lower house saw the call for an Indian role in Afghanistan’s development as “detrimental to regional stability,” adding that it was premised on a “failure to understand existing ground realities and challenges in the region.”

On August 21, in a speech announcing the US strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia under the his administration, Trump singled Pakistan out for particular criticism.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” said the US president at the time.

A day later, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that Washington would consider cutting aid to Pakistan, increasing the use of drone strikes within its territory and stripping the South Asian country of its status as a major non-NATO US ally.

On Saturday, Tillerson’s statement was followed up with US General Nicholson saying Afghan Taliban leaders were being given sanctuary in the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar.

Pakistan denies that it offers sanctuary to any armed groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, and the government and military have rejected Trump’s strategy in earlier statements.

The government, in turn, has demanded that US and Afghan forces take action against Pakistani Taliban groups it claims are operating from Afghan territory. That demand was reiterated in Wednesday’s resolution.

The resolution also urged the government to review all cooperation with the US, including the use of air and ground supply routes by NATO troops in Afghanistan.

While the US-led military alliance has developed alternative supply routes to Afghanistan, the bulk of its logistical and military supplies are still routed through Pakistan.

The document also called on the government to “consider the postponement of any visits by US delegations to Pakistan or by Pakistani delegations/officials to USA”.

The resolution also called on the government to “formulate economic policies to deal with any situation arising out of the absence of US [financial] assistance”.

Pakistan has been one of the top recipients of US civilian and military aid in the last decade. This year, it is due to receive $742.2m in assistance from Washington.

While strongly worded, the resolution passed by the lower house of parliament is not binding on the government.

Separately on Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met with top military and civilian officials in the capital to discuss Trump’s policy announcement, a statement from his office said.

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