ISTANBUL -  Pakistan cannot be blamed for the failure of other actors in Afghanistan and it has alone done more than other countries combined in the fight against terrorism, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said in an interview with a Turkish daily.

Abbasi said: “Pakistan will not be made a scapegoat for the failures of others in Afghanistan.” The prime minister criticised US President Donald Trump for accusing Pakistan of providing a safe haven to terrorists and not doing much in the fight against extremists.

Recalling Trump’s statements on Pakistan in late August that the US can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, Abbasi said Islamabad’s efforts in the fight against terrorism is unquestionable. “Our role, sincerity and intentions for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan are beyond question,” he said.

In response to Trump’s allegations that Pakistan has been paid by the US in billions and billions of dollars, but the country has not been effectively fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, Abbasi said in the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region, the US, ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and Nato in Afghanistan have not suffered as many casualties combined as Pakistan has suffered alone.

Through successful operations, Pakistan has eliminated terrorists in the areas along its border with Afghanistan. “We have done enough on our part; we demand the US and other players do more,” the PM said.

Abbasi strongly criticised Washington’s new Afghanistan strategy announced in the Trump era. “We have shown our reservations over the new US strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia, which is, in fact, a reiteration of the old, failed strategy. Pakistan cannot endorse any strategy that will prolong and intensify the suffering of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and other regional countries,” he asserted.

“The Jammu and Kashmir crisis is among the longest unresolved issues on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Kashmiris are being punished for demanding self-determination. It remains one of the most militarised zones in the world, with more than 700,000 Indian security forces. Not only are they armed to the teeth, they also come armed with repressive laws that grant them impunity."

Calling the Indian presence in the region "illegal and brutal," he said that the people there still resist the "Indian occupation" and make sacrifices. Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Expressing the hope that the world would find a way to resolve the dispute as soon as possible, Abbasi said: “It is imperative for the international community to act immediately and decisively to stop the tragedy unfolding in occupied Kashmir. We hope the world would play its rightful role in ensuring a just, peaceful and durable solution of the Kashmir problem in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.”

He pointed to a durable and peaceful solution to Kashmir for a more stable South Asia. “This is indispensable both for justice, durable peace and stability in South Asia. For its part, Pakistan is ready for peaceful, negotiated resolution of all outstanding issues with India, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. We believe a fair and lasting solution to the Kashmir problem is essential for durable peace and stability in South Asia,” he said.

PM, NIGERIAN PRESIDENT DISCUSS BILATERAL TIES, COOPERATION: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari met here Saturday on the sidelines of 9th D-8 Summit hosted by Turkey.

During the meeting, the two leaders discussed bilateral relations, prospects of enhancing cooperation in diverse areas as well as other matters of mutual interest.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told the Nigerian president that Pakistan can provide cooperation to his country in health, infrastructure, education and human resource management sectors. There is a huge trade potential between the two countries that can be utilised for the benefit of the people of Pakistan and Nigeria,” added the prime minister.

“Pakistan has also focused on bridging the energy deficit and has been able to establish power projects in a short span.

The prime minister stated Pakistan and Nigeria are facing similar challenges and can help each other through sharing of expertise. He apprised the Nigerian president of the gains made by Pakistan in anti-terrorism operations.

The prime minister underlined the need on holding joint ministerial commission meetings between Nigeria and Pakistan at the earliest and invited Muhammadu Buhari to visit Pakistan.

The Nigerian president appreciated the high standards of training provided to military officials of Nigeria by Pakistan and expressed the hope to further expand bilateral relations.