US sanctions to be counter- productive: PM

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NC Monitoring Desk

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said it would be counter-productive for the United States to sanction Pakistani officials or further cut military assistance, warning it would hurt both the countries’ fight against militancy. Islamabad-Washington relations have frayed since President Donald Trump last month set out a new Afghanistan policy and criticised Pakistan as a fickle ally that gives safe haven to “agents of chaos” by “harbouring” the Afghan Taliban and other militants. PM Abbasi said any targeted sanctions by Washington against Pakistani military and intelligence officials would not help US counter-terrorism efforts. “We are fighting the war against terror, anything that degrades our effort will only hurt the US effort,” he said in an interview with a foreign news agency here yesterday. “What does it achieve?” US officials privately say the targeted sanctions would be aimed at Pakistani officials with ties to extremist groups and are part of an array of options being discussed to pressure Pakistan to change its behaviour, including further aid cuts. PM Abbasi warned that Washington will not achieve its counter-terrorism aims by starving Pakistan of funds. “If the military aid cuts degrade our effort to fight war on terror, who does it help?” he said. “Whatever needs to be done here, it needs to be a cooperative effort.” The prime minister said one practical side-effect of military aid cuts and US Congress blocking the sale of subsidized F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan will be to force Islamabad to buy weapons from China and Russia. “We’ve had to look at other options to maintain our national defensive forces,” he added.

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