‘Pakistan not in habit of taking notices from anyone, let alone US’: Rabbani slams Pence’s remarks

Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, in response to a warning from United States (US) Vice President (VP) Mike Pence to Islamabad earlier this week, made it clear that Pakistan is not in the habit of “taking notices” from anyone.

Pence, while addressing US troops at the Bagram military base in Kabul, had said that Pakistan has allegedly provided safe haven to terrorists for too long but those days are over now, as US President Donald Trump has now “put Pakistan on notice”.

“Two days ago, Pence had the gall, the audacity to say that Trump has put Pakistan on notice,” Rabbani said in Islamabad on Sunday. “Let the word ring out in clear terms that Pakistan is a sovereign state and is not in the habit of taking notices from anyone, let alone the US.”

The Senate chairman was addressing the first six-nation Speakers’ Conference, which was inaugurated by President Mamnoon Hussain earlier today.

The conference ─ themed “The challenges of terrorism and inter-regional connectivity” ─ is being held in Islamabad, with representatives from Russia, China, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey in attendance.

Addressing the conference, Rabbani further said that Trump, in his recently announced South Asia policy, had blamed Pakistan for the failures of the US in Afghanistan.

“We saw the US ignoring the sacrifices made by Pakistan,” Rabbani observed.

He went on to state that the US has pursued a policy of “regime change and bringing about destabilisation in Muslim countries” particularly in the Middle East.

Describing Trump’s decision to shift the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem the “blunder of all blunders”, Rabbani said that Washington had failed to understand that it is neither supported practically, nor in fact, nor by history in their decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Rabbani noted that the United Nations General Assembly had given a befitting reply to Washington when over 120 countries rejected the US move.

“What they [US] fail to recognise is that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will give rise to a new intifada as the people of Palestine move to achieve their historic rights.”

During his address, Rabbani also spoke about the Trump administration’s recently unveiled national security strategy, noting that a new nexus seems to be emerging comprising of US, Israel and India.

“We find the US is trying to use or build up India as a policeman of the region,” Rabbani said.

He added that although Pakistan “believes in dialogue and friendly relations with its neighbours […] until and unless India is willing to speak on equal terms, we will perhaps just be looking at the mirage of peace in the region.”

‘World has failed to address the root cause of extremism’

Earlier in the day, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq addressed the conference and noted that Pakistan’s economy has suffered gravely due to “cowardly acts of terrorism”.

He said that the problem of extremism had been aggravated by the rise of the drug trade.

“Why has the global coalition against terrorism consistently failed to control and destroy poppy cultivation?” Sadiq asked, noting that the drug had become a major source of terror financing.

“Although religious fanaticism has often been cited as the main cause of global terrorism, let us not forget that the rise of the populous right and the sanctioning of oppression has also added to the mayhem,” Sadiq said.

“The world has failed to address the root cause of extremism,” he added.

He said that the controversy over Jerusalem’s status did not only violate international laws but also undermined peace efforts, divided the people of the world and fanned religious animosity.

He said that the US move to veto a United Nations Security Council’s draft resolution rejecting the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was proof that the world needs a more just and equitable order.

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