Pakistan is ready for a joint operation with the US to destroy the Haqqani Network if it provides evidence about the presence of safe havens of the dreaded terror outfit in the country, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said. His remarks came after US President Donald Trump, in August, had accused Pakistan of harbouring “agents of chaos and terror” and the “very enemy US forces have fighting in Afghanistan” for the past 17 years. Asif, who recently visited Washington and met senior Trump administration officials, told Express News, “We have offered American authorities to visit Pakistan with evidence of Haqqani network’s safe havens in the country. “If they find any activity [of Haqqanis] in the targeted areas, our troops, along with the US, would destroy them once and for all.”
The Haqqani network has carried out a number of kidnappings and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan. The group is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people. The foreign minister also said that Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had made the same offer to Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani during his Kabul visit earlier this month. Pakistan’s offer is a major concession to Washington, as so far it has resisted US boots on its soil, and it comes ahead of the expected visits of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis to Islamabad in the coming weeks.
Referring to criticism from the United States to rein in terror group, Asif said, “If the Trump administration exerts more pressure on us, friendly countries, especially China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, will stand by our side”. He further said that if US secretary of state and secretary of defence were coming to dictate us, “we will refuse to accept their (diktats) dictates…and now, we will do what is in the best interest of our country.”