US State Department spokesperson’s remarks insensitive, says Pakistan

Pakistan on Sunday angrily reacted to remarks by the US State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner’s critical remarks that Islamabad is selective in targeting terrorists and does not go after those threatening its neighbours.

Toner told a news conference in Washington on Friday that the US has been very clear with the highest levels of the government of Pakistan that they must “target all militant groups, and that includes those that target Pakistan’s neighbours, and they must also close all safe havens.”

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakariya said the remarks of the spokesperson are misplaced and are not sensitive to Pakistan’s security concerns.

“We have taken a serious note of the remarks made by the US State Department deputy spokesperson, which are self-contradictory and oblivious of the fact that Pakistan has taken concrete measures to counter terrorism in a phase-wise manner keeping in view Pakistan’s national security concerns.”

Zakariya said in a statement that Pakistan has been the victim of terrorism and suffered more than any other country.

“The factors behind spread of terrorism in Pakistan and the colossal losses inflicted on Pakistan in terms of loss of over 60,000 innocent lives and billions of dollars loss to the economy is obvious now,” he said.

The US State Department deputy spokesperson said that Pakistan was doing so “selectively, we need to see them go after all groups, even those groups that might not threaten Pakistan itself but threaten its neighbours.”

The spokesman referred to last month’s visit to Islamabad by Senator John McCain with some other Senators and Congressmen who were “unanimous in acknowledging the remarkable achievements made by Pakistan in its counter-terrorism drive.”

They visited Miranshah in North Waziristan tribal region and observed the situation on ground for themselves.

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