ISLAMABAD - The blame game will only spoil the cooperation between Pakistan and the United States, Islamabad has told Washington.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan had made it clear to the US that unless the two sides appreciate each other’s efforts for peace in Afghanistan and the region, the misunderstandings will deepen.

One official said:  “We have taken notice of the continuous hostile statement from the US. We have discussed it with the US counterparts. Washington has been asked to stop the blame game.”

Another official said Pakistan had urged the US to understand the damage the hostile statements can inflict on the Pak-US ties. “The US wants to move forward but there has been no commitment to remain soft towards Pakistan. They are sticking to their point that we (Pakistan) have done nothing for them in the past. Hopefully there will be some improvement in the mutual trust,” he added.

This week, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Pakistan “continues to harbour terrorists that turn around and kill American soldiers.”

She contended that Washington should not blindly give Islamabad even a dollar until it steps up efforts to combat terrorism. Haley, the first Indian-American ever appointed to a cabinet position in any US presidential administration, said the US did not need to give money to countries that wish harm to America, go behind its back and try and “stop us from doing things”.

“I think there should be a strategic view on which countries we partner with, which ones we count on to work with us on certain things, and move forward accordingly. I think we just blindly allow money to keep going without thinking that this is real leverage. We have to use it,” Haley told US magazine ‘The Atlantic’.

“The one example I’ll give you is, look at Pakistan. Giving them over a billion dollars, and they continue to harbour terrorists that turn around and kill our soldiers — that’s never okay. We shouldn’t even give them a dollar until they correct it. Use the billion dollars. That’s not a small amount of change,” she said.

Haley will step down as the UN envoy at the end of this year. US President Donald Trump last week nominated chief State Department spokeswoman and a former Fox News journalist Heather Nauert as Haley’s successor.

Meanwhile yesterday, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said the complex scenario was a challenge for major powers in South Asia, particularly with the growing presence of trans-national militant group Daesh in Afghanistan.

She said over-reliance on kinetic approach towards the Afghanistan issue had reduced chance of its resolution and stressed political settlement as the most viable option including intra-Afghan dialogue and the formal reconciliation process.

Janjua said strategic partnership with China was growing with an objective of ‘shared future and share prosperity. The secretary said South Asia can make no real progress until rivalry and hatred prevails between Pakistan and India.

Speaking at an international conference ‘Conflict and cooperation in South Asia: Role of major powers’ here, she said India’s massive spending on up gradation of its arms and military hardware was undermining the delicate balance and stability of the region wan contrast to Pakistan’s efforts towards peace.

“Pakistan does not subscribe to any nuclear and conventional arms race, however will continue to pursue with credible minimum deterrence to maintain strategic stability,” Janjua said at the event - organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute.

The Foreign Secretary said Pakistan attached great importance to the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation with its principle of sovereign equality and had contributed significantly to make it a vehicle of regional peace.

However, she regretted that the SAARC was held hostage by one of its member states India, which was denying cooperation to Islamabad in hosting of the Summit for last two years.

Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said China was a natural partner of development in South Asia and its Belt and Road Initiative was similar to the ancient Silk Route concept of shared historic trade links.

READ MORE: A leather jacket

He said China under BRI had concluded 100 documents of cooperation and its trade volume with South Asian countries had touched $130 billion till 2017.

Overall, he said China’s trade volume with BRI partners had exceeded US$5 trillion with more than a quarter billion jobs created and 80 Special Economic Zones created in last five years.

He said China Pakistan Economic Corridor was the major area of cooperation under BRI with its 22 projects and a few early harvest projects already contributing to the development of the two countries. Also, China contributed US$2 billion as Foreign Direct Investment to Pakistan, he added.

About China’s disputes in South Asia, the ambassador said dialogue was the new trend, which China believed, could improve relations between the countries and encourage their development.

Acting President IPRI Mohammad Mehboob Qadir said South Asia due to its geo-strategic location and geo-economic potential had witnessed contest of major world powers resulting in formation of alliances and coalitions to serve common objectives.

He mentioned the US’ ‘hazy role’ in Afghanistan, re-emergence of Russia, inability of SAARC to achieve results and gross human rights

violations in Jammu and Kashmir as main challenges for South Asia.

The conference was attended by diplomats, foreign affairs experts and intellectuals from the South Asian countries.