ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON: Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry has responded to the decision by the US to cut Pakistan’s security aid, by saying that Pakistan fought the war on terrorism from its own resources and must be appreciated.
Ambassador Chaudhry said that the US-Pakistan cooperation in fighting terrorism has helped serve US interests such as defeating Al-Qaeda in the volatile border region with Afghanistan.
”We are engaged with the US Administration on this issue and await further details. It, however, needs to be appreciated that Pakistan has fought the war against terrorism largely from its own resources which has cost over $120 billion in 15 years.
“We believe that Pakistan-US cooperation in fighting terrorism has directly served US national security interests. It has helped fight Al-Qaeda and other groups who took advantage of ungoverned spaces along a long porous border and posed a common threat to both countries. ”
He said that Pakistan through series of major operations has cleared all these areas resulting in significant improvement in security in Pakistan, and similar action needs to be taken on the Afghan side which has vast stretches of ungoverned spaces.
He further said that working towards enduring peace requires patience and persistence , while the emergence of new and more deadly groups such as Daesh in Afghanistan call for enhancing international cooperation.
“Diplomacy of deadlines and red lines is counterproductive in meeting such common threats. ”
Regarding the placement of Pakistan on a ‘Special Watch List’ under US legislation for religious freedom violations, Ambassador Chaudhry said that is a new categorisation and they have sought an explanation from the US.
”We have noted the announcement by the State Department regarding placement of Pakistan on a ‘Special Watch List’ under the purview of the US legislation on international religious freedom.
“This is a new categorization and we are seeking clarifications from the US side regarding its rationale and implications. ”
He said that it should be acknowledged that Pakistan is firmly committed to promotion and protection of human rights including the right to religious freedom, and has undertaken wide ranging legislative, institutional and administrative measures ensuring full coverage of guarantees allowed under its constitution.
For instance, in the past year alone, he said the Supreme Court has come up with landmark decisions setting important precedents for enforcement of relevant constitutional provisions in letter and spirit.
The ambassador stated that the international community is well aware of the steps taken by Pakistan that have brought about positive change on ground.
“We will continue to work with the international community with a view to ensuring that internationally agreed standards on religious freedom are observed in Pakistan and the broader region. ”