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Pakistan warns US against ‘harmful’ allegations of providing ‘safe havens to militants’

Pakistan on Thursday rejected allegations in a United States threat assessment report that it provides safe haven to militant groups, warning that such “controversial statements will be counterproductive and have the potential to adversely affect the peace and stability of the region”.

Earlier this week, US Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats presented a threat assessment report for 2019 to the US Senate which accused Pakistan of protecting and providing safe havens to terrorist organisations in order to “plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests”.

Read more: Challenges in South Asia to grow due to elections in Afghanistan, India: US report

Coats’ briefing and report on possible threats to the US in the coming year come at a time when Pakistan is playing a crucial role in brokering peace talks between the Taliban and the US in order to find a solution to the 17-year-long Afghan war.

Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal during a weekly briefing today cautioned Washington against issuing allegations which could be “harmful”.

Dr Faisal also commented on the situation in Afghanistan saying that matters between the Taliban and Kabul are “their business”.

“We hope that they can sit together and resolve their issues,” he added. The Taliban have refused to hold talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government, branding them as “puppets”.

Afghan authorities have previously complained of being excluded from the discussions in Qatar ─ where the Taliban have a political office ─ and warned that any deal between the US and the Taliban will require Kabul’s endorsement.

The Foreign Office spokesperson also highlighted Pakistan’s concern about militant Islamic State group activities at the Pak-Afghan border. He defended Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to keep the Torkham border crossing “around the clock”, explaining that the premier’s decision was meant to encourage bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is making the transport of imports to and exports from Afghanistan easier [by keeping the border open],” he said.

Dr Faisal said that the Foreign Office would soon release details about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s upcoming visit to Pakistan, which he described as an “extremely important” trip.

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