- Khawaja Asif says Imran Khan’s “conspiracy narrative” has died its death after the remarks from the US President.
- Says reaction from PM Shehbaz and Nawaz Sharif is cautious.
- Pakistan will reevaluate its position in the next couple of days.
Federal Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said that PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s narrative on the conspiracy has fizzled out in thin air with the statement of the US President.
United States President Joe Biden referred to Pakistan as “one of the most dangerous countries” and alleged that Pakistan’s nuclear programme lacks cohesion.
“Did anybody think we would be in a situation where China is trying to figure out its role relative to Russia and relative to India and relative to Pakistan?” President Biden said, addressing the democratic congressional campaign committee reception on Saturday.
President Biden’s statement could have been caused by Pakistan’s Russia-Ukraine policy, the defence minister said, speaking in the Geo News current affairs programme Naya Pakistan on Saturday.
He said that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s reaction to the statement of the US President is cautious. However, Pakistan will reevaluate its position after a few days, if necessary, he said.
Given the sort of serious circumstances facing Pakistan, the country cannot afford to adopt belligerence, he said. However, at the same time, the dignity of Pakistan should be kept in view, he maintained.
Khawaja Asif also mentioned that he tweeted after the US President gave the statement, which he termed ‘unfortunate.’
Pakistan respects and values its partnership and relations with the US, he said, adding Pakistan stood by the US and its allies through the decades. However, they seem to have forgot the history, he said.
The defence minister said Pakistan has adopted a principled position over the Ukraine war, which the US may have not liked. “They will like us if we follow their policy blind-folded,” he asserted.
Pakistan’s nuclear capability is the biggest deterrent and a guarantee of peace and security in the region, he said, calling on the US President to ‘bring about cohesion in his approach’ towards Pakistan.
Pakistan and the US should take their bilateral relations forward based on mutural respect and cooperation but the utterances like the one from Biden don’t contribute to strengthening of the ties, he remarked.
“I don’t believe that just one statement [from the US President] has upset the bilateral ties between the two countries, which have improved over the past few months and the two countries should keep the cohesion intact,” he said.
“On a lighter note, I would like to say that the narrative which Imran Khan weaved around the US conspiracy has once and for all ended,” he said.
The government is not amending the law governing the Army Chief’s extension or reappointment, Khawaja Asif said, responding to a query.
“To my knowledge, the government has no plans to introduce such an amendment,” he said.
Pakistan most dangerous country: Biden
On October 15, President Biden alleged that Pakistan’s nuclear programme lacks “cohesion” while he was speaking about the aggressive attitude of Russia and China.
The US president said that he has spent more time with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping than any other head of state in the world, 68 hours of which was in person.
Referring to China President Jinping, Biden said that he “understands what he wants but has an enormous array of problems”.
“How do we handle that? How do we handle that relative to what’s going on in Russia? And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion,” the US president said, adding that despite a lot going on, the US has a hunk of opportunities to change the dynamic in the second quarter of the 21st century.
The Pakistani authorities held consultations before issuing a detailed official response. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari strongly protested against Biden’s controversial remarks.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) handed a “strong” demarche to US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome over President Biden’s “misleading” remarks regarding Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
Acting Foreign Secretary Jauhar Saleem called in the US ambassador to deliver the demarche, the ministry said. Pakistan’s disappointment and concern were conveyed to the US envoy on the unwarranted remarks, it said.
The US president’s remarks are not grounded in reality and facts, the ministry said.
The secretary made it clear that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and its impeccable stewardship of the nuclear programme and adherence to global standards and international best practices was well acknowledged, including by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“It was essential to maintain the positive trajectory of Pakistan-US relations and the close cooperation between the two sides to build regional and global peace,” the ministry added.