ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has complained to the United States about Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats’ controversial statement in which he alleged that Pakistan was using some terror groups as ‘policy tools.’

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Islamabad had urged the US to acknowledge Pakistan’s role against terrorism rather than allowing the trust level to decline with such statements.

Dan Coats charged that Pakistan’s ‘narrow approach to counterterrorism cooperation – using some groups as policy tools and confronting only the militant groups that directly threaten Pakistan – almost certainly will frustrate the US counterterrorism efforts against the Taliban’.

He told members of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: “Militant groups supported by Pakistan will continue to take advantage of their safe haven in Pakistan to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests.”

Coats and heads of other top US intelligence agencies had appeared before Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on their worldwide threat assessment.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley attended the meeting.

One official at the foreign ministry said that Pakistan had protested with the US through the diplomatic channels after the controversial statement surfaced. “We have only recently played a big role for peace in Afghanistan. We have sacrificed lives and we have defeated terrorism. The statement (by Coast) seems to be influenced by India. This is upsetting,” he added.

Another official said that Pakistan had tried to build trust with the US through joint efforts but such statements could spoil the efforts to work as partners. “We are hopeful the US will stop such statements which could potentially ruin the joint efforts for peace in the region. We have asked them to build trust rather than weakening it,” he said.

This month, the declining trust level between Pakistan and the US received a major boost after the ‘result-oriented’ US-Afghan Taliban dialogue in Qatar – arranged by Pakistan.

Pak-US ties had soured in recent years with US officials repeatedly accusing Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups like the Afghan Taliban, which attack Afghanistan from alleged safe havens along the border between the two countries.

The troubled relationship had hit another snag after President Donald Trump declared he had cancelled assistance worth hundreds of millions of dollars because Islamabad ‘does not do a damn thing’ for the US.

This week, Pakistan urged the world to revisit their travel advisories after Islamabad introduced a liberal visa policy claiming peace had been established in all areas of the country. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan had a great potential in tourism and the new visa policy will multiply the tourists.

Last week, Pakistan had announced a new visa policy, granting visas on arrival to citizens of 50 countries. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the residents of 175 countries will also be able to avail e-visa services. The government has approved tour operators to bring tourist groups to the country under new policy.

The Indian-origin American and British citizens will also be given visas on arrival. Business visa will now be provided to the citizens of 96 countries from the previous 68 countries. The Business visa will be stamped in eight to 10 days. The period of diplomatic visa has also been extended from one year to three years whilst that of students’ visa to two years from one year.

Defence analyst Lt General Naeem Khalid Lodhi (R) said that Pakistan was interested in Afghanistan and regional peace more than the US because it has to live in the neighbourhood.

“The US wants a respectful way out as it has been defeated in Afghanistan. A peaceful Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China and Afghanistan but the US wants tension,” he said.

Lodhi said that regional peace and stability was directly linked with peace and stability in Afghanistan. “No matter how many allied forces are deployed in Afghanistan, there cannot be a victory on the battlefield. The US is now engaged in direct negotiations with the Taliban which is welcoming. Pakistan has always supported Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process,” he added.

 

Pakistan upset over US

spymaster’s statement on terror