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China defends Pak’s anti-terror efforts
September 09, 2017
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BEIJING: China on Friday defended Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts, following President Donald Trump’s accusation that Islamabad harbours militants attacking US and Afghan troops.

The top diplomats from China and Pakistan also took swipes at Trump’s newly unveiled Afghanistan policy as they called for new talks with the Taliban to resolve the 16-year conflict.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing stood firmly behind its “ironclad friend” Pakistan, even though “some countries” did not give Islamabad the credit it deserved in fighting terrorism, a pointed reference to the US.

“The government and people of Pakistan have made huge sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and such efforts and sacrifices are there for everyone to see,” Wang Yi said.

“The international community should recognise that... and give Pakistan the full credit it deserves,” he added.

The remarks were made at a press briefing in Beijing following a meeting between Wang and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif.

In a major speech outlining US policy on Afghanistan last month, Trump slammed Pakistan for offering safe havens to “agents of chaos” and suggested relations would be adjusted immediately. He offered few details.

He further raised alarms in Pakistan when he raised the prospect of recruiting archrival India into the US strategy in Afghanistan.

US officials said this week that $225 million in military aid for Pakistan have been suspended while about 3,500 additional troops will head to Afghanistan to reverse the Taliban’s battleground advances and gain leverage in negotiations.

“It’s our firm view that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, the focus should be on a politically negotiated settlement,” Asif told reporters in Beijing. “China is playing a very constructive role in this regard.”

Pakistan has repeatedly rejected US accusations that it is abetting groups like the Taliban-linked Haqqani Network, a position that China has backed.

Following Trump’s remarks, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also cautioned that Pakistan could lose its status as a major US ally and see its US military aid suspended.

Asif said it is Pakistan’s firm view that maintaining regional security is a “critical” priority and focus should remain on peaceful solutions.

He also thanked Beijing for its role in hosting a trilateral Afghanistan-China-Pakistan foreign ministers’ forum, which is expected to take place before the end of this year.

Last year, the then-top foreign official Sartaj Aziz stated that the Taliban’s leadership does enjoy safe haven inside Pakistan, which Islamabad uses as a “lever” to pressure the group into talks with Kabul.

Meanwhile, the air forces of China and Pakistan began joint training exercises on Friday.

China has dispatched J-11 fighters, JH-7 fighter-bombers, KJ-200 AWACS aircraft and ground forces including surface-to-air missile and radar troops, said Shen Jinke, spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, adding that the Chinese Navy’s aviators also participated in the training.

Pakistan has sent JF-17 Thunder fighter jets and early warning aircraft to join the exercise, named “Shaheen VI,” which will run until Sept.27, Shen said.

“To build a world-class air force, we need to learn from foreign Armies and improve our capability to complete multiple tasks,” said Shen, adding that the Chinese Air Force will increase international exchanges and sharpen its combat effectiveness.

Agencies

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