Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif remarked that the Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hampering the relations between Pakistan and India.
In an interview to Imran Garda on The Newsmakers, a current affairs program of TRT World, Asif recently said in Istanbul, “We would like to have a good relationship with the Indians, but I don’t think there is a chance of any improvement in relationship with the present religious extremist government in Delhi.”
When asked if Modis’ government is religious extremist, he remarked: “Modi’s government what they did in Gujarat when Modi was the chief minister he killed, he massacred over 2,000 Muslims over there. He’s massacring Muslims in Kashmir also. So there is actually a genocide and ethnic cleansing of Muslims going on.”
The foreign minister also alleged that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in India is “a religious extremist movement.”
Asif was also asked about Indian claims that Pakistan is ‘obsessed’ with it. Responding to this, Asif said that it is not an obsession. “India is a danger to our security; we must be vigilant. This is the bedrock of our policy.”
On relations with Afghanistan, Asif shared: “We want to be a part of a peace process in Afghanistan in any bilateral or multilateral platform. However, if people in Kabul want to play proxy of India, then that is also not acceptable.”
Replying to a question on Afghanistan’s claims that Pakistan has been spreading terrorism in their territory, Asif clarified that Afghan government is making such allegations because of “lack of control and lack of writ of Kabul government.”
The Afghan government just wants someone to blame, he said, adding that Afghanistan failed in the fight against terrorism, while Pakistan succeeded.
“They [Afghan government] lost territory to Taliban, not because of us. They have record opium harvest this year. They have huge corruption in the government machinery. Their soldiers sell arms to Taliban. Daesh is present in three of their provinces,” Asif remarked
He called the claims of the United States and Afghanistan of Pakistan supporting Haqqani Network as “absolutely baseless.”
“Haqqanis don’t need safe havens in Pakistan. They have about 40 percent territory of Afghan territory with Taliban. Why would they have safe havens in Pakistan?”
Reiterating his earlier claims, Asif said that US’ harsh statement against Pakistan was just them trying to “scapegoating” Pakistan for “their own failures of last more than 15 years.”
He added, “Our national interest is our primary concern. We will weave our foreign policy around our own national interests.”
Our region is more of a priority for us than the United States, he remarked.
On the role of Pakistan Army in the country, Asif explained that the institution of the army is actively involved in defending the country and determining Pakistan’s priorities.
“Army has a constitutional role of consultation on major issues,” he added.