Pakistan is looking to strengthen ties with countries like Turkey and China who acknowledge its sacrifices in the war against terror, its foreign minister said Thursday.
Khawaja Asif said Pakistan will defend its territorial integrity as he addressed a press conference at the end of a three-day envoys’ conference in capital Islamabad.
Several Pakistani ambassadors including those to the U.S., China, Russia, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Afghanistan participated in the conference.
During the conference, U.S. President Donald Trump’s new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia was discussed in detail.
“People in Washington do not understand the ground realities of our region. We will not accept the scapegoating of Pakistan,” said Asif.
“We have many friends who supported us in critical times, including China and Turkey. We will strengthen our ties with them, and Russia, Iran and the Gulf states.”
The Pakistani foreign minister is scheduled to visit China on the invitation of his Chinese counterpart on Sep. 8.
In response to a question, Asif said Pakistan wanted a lasting relationship with the U.S. but it will ensure its interests first.
He added that Pakistan had suffered due to the war in Afghanistan and wanted peace in the region.
Last month, Trump announced a new phase in the 16-year campaign in Afghanistan, which, while short on detail, pledged further U.S. military involvement against the Taliban.
He also criticized Pakistan for providing “safe havens for terrorist organizations” and called on Pakistan’s regional rival India to become further involved in Afghanistan.
The apparent switch from Pakistan, a long-standing U.S. ally, to India led to the cancellation of three high-level meetings with U.S. officials by Islamabad and the passing of a resolution in parliament criticizing Washington’s new policy as hostile and threatening.
Asif said that the conference also discussed Pakistan-India relations in view of the situation in disputed Kashmir.
He expressed concern on the ongoing Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, adding that Pakistan will come forward with a policy on the issue in the upcoming Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) meeting that will be held in Kazakhstan.