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The recently sworn-in PM also alleges that India is using aggression along the Line of Control to divert attention from the turmoil in Kashmir

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that while his government has no problem with India extending economic assistance to Afghanistan, it will “not accept a political or military role” of the country in their mutual neighbour.

Abbasi’s comments, made during an interaction organised by American think-tank Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York, come at a time when the United States government under President Donald Trump is shunning its old alliance with Pakistan and decisively allying with India in its attempt to restore economic growth in Afghanistan.

The recently sworn-in Prime Minister is in New York to attend a session of the United Nations General Assembly where India’s Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj had, a few days earlier, hit out Pakistan for supporting terror outfits and condoning North Korea’s controversial nuclear program.

Asked at the CFR interaction to comment on the Trump administration’s recently unveiled Afghan policy, under which the US President has sought more help from New Delhi to bring peace and stability in the war-torn country, Abbasi said Pakistan sees zero political or military role for India in Afghanistan.

“We don’t foresee any political or military role for India in Afghanistan. I think it will just complicate the situation and it will not resolve anything. So, if they want to do economic assistance that’s their prerogative, but we don’t accept or see any role politically or militarily for India in Afghanistan,” Abbasi said.

Abbasi added that India, like all other countries, has “the right to trade” with Afghanistan and had done so in the past too, but insisted that the two countries must restrict their exchange purely to economic activities and not indulge in military cooperation.

The Pakistan PM also reiterated his country’s demand for granting Kashmiris the “right to self determination” while alleging that people in the northernmost Indian state had “risen against the Indian occupation”.

Insisting that the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan and the latter’s demand to settle it through a right of self determination that should be granted to the Kashmiris as per resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council, Abbasi said: “There is Indian aggression along the Line of Control, mostly to draw attention away from the genuine struggle of the Kashmiri people, who have today risen against the Indian occupation there. And we fully support the right of self-determination… And that issue should be resolved as per the UN Security Council resolutions.”

The Pakistan PM alleged that “Indian occupation forces there (in Kashmir) have committed atrocities which are really beyond belief” and that his country expects the world community to take notice of those atrocities.

Asked how his country plans to take forward discussions with the Indian government given the ongoing diplomatic standoff between the two nations, Abbasi said “that certain core issues have to be addressed and Kashmir is one of the core issues”.

In a comment that can at best be viewed as a war-mongering effort, Abbasi said his country has developed short-range nuclear weapons to counter the ‘cold start doctrine’ adopted by the Indian Army. “We have a very robust and secure command-and-control system over our strategic nuclear assets. Time has proved that it’s a process that is very secure. It’s a process that has complete civilian oversight through the NCA,” he said.

Making tall claims of having destroyed terrorism and terror networks in Pakistan at a time when Pak-based terror outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba have been called out by international forums like BRICS and the UN, Abbasi said: “This perception that there are (terrorist) sanctuaries (in Pakistan) is absolutely not correct. We have defeated the enemy on our own territory. We have destroyed the sanctuaries”.

Responding to another question about Pakistan’s spy agency ISI having terror links, the prime minister dismissed any links between the Haqqani network and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). “We do not condone any activities by any organisation to pose a terrorist threat within Pakistan or to export it to other countries,” Abbasi said.

Asked about the presence of a number of terror groups and terrorists like Hafeez Saeed in Pakistan, Abbasi said he (Hafiz Saeed) belonged to a “proscribed organisation”. He went on to say: “We have taken action against him. He is in house arrest. In the recent by-election, a candidate did use his picture in an election poster, which is illegal to do, and action will be taken against him by the election commission.”

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