Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said the bombers behind the deadly truck attack in Kabul’s diplomatic zone in May that killed at least 150 people, were “likely to have come from Pakistan.”
“I don’t know all the details, but it seems three or four people crossed over the border. There was a vehicle which traveled from that area to Kabul and was parked in an embassy compound before it blew up,” Abbasi said in an interview with Financial Times published on Sunday.
“We have 250,000 troops fighting there, but we don’t have control of the full area. [Militants] often cross the border from the other side and attack our people. If the Afghan army cannot control them, and U.S. forces cannot control them, what are we supposed to do?” he added.
Pakistani Prime Minister also warned the U.S. that it risks fueling terrorism in the region and undermining military efforts in Afghanistan if the Trump administration follows through with a threat to downgrade its relationship with Islamabad.
Just days after the Financial Times revealed that the U.S. was considering stripping Pakistan of its status as an ally because of a perceived failure to tackle terrorism, Abbasi said the hardline approach risked backfiring.
Abbasi also threatened to drop the U.S. as supplier of military aircraft to apply pressure on its ally. Pakistan currently buys F-16 fighter jets, which are made by American company Lockheed Martin and have become the mainstay of the Pakistani air force.
“We would like to buy more F16s, but we do have other options,” said Abbasi. “We have a long relationship with both the French and the Chinese, and we have been developing the JF-17 alongside the Chinese, which in may ways meets or even exceeds the specifications of the F16,” he added.
He did not go into details about which other measures Pakistan might take. But Financial Times cited a person close to Pakistani army as saying that: “We could make it harder for the US to use supply routes through Pakistan to serve its troops in Afghanistan, and we could stop co-operating on drone attacks. That would make the war in Afghanistan a lot more difficult.”
Abbasi, meanwhile, told Finacial Times that he found the U.S. new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia “confusing”, and he had to rely on media reports to find out what President Donald Trump’s plans were for the region.
“The signals we get from Washington are confusing, but our message is very clear: we are committed to fighting terror and we will continue to fight terror,” he said.
“All it will do [if the US downgrades Pakistan as an ally] is degrade our efforts to fight terror, and I am not sure if that will work for the US,” he added.