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Pakistan parliament condemns Trump's Afghan policy

Non-binding resolution calls on government to consider cutting off NATO supply lines through South Asian country.

Anti-US protests

Pakistan's lower house of parliament has unanimously passed a resolution calling on the government to consider suspending supply lines to the US-led NATO mission in neighbouring Afghanistan, in response to recent US accusations that the country is harbouring armed groups.

"The National Assembly regards President [Donald] Trump's and General [John] Nicholson's [the top US military commander in Afghanistan] statements on Pakistan as hostile and threatening," said the resolution, passed in the capital, Islamabad, on Wednesday.

On August 21, in a speech announcing the US strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia under the new administration, Trump singled Pakistan out for particular criticism.

"We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond," said the US president at the time.

A day later, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that Washington would consider cutting aid to Pakistan, increasing the use of drone strikes within its territory and stripping the South Asian country of its status as a major non-NATO US ally.

On Saturday, US General Nicholson said Afghan Taliban leaders were being given sanctuary in the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar. 

Pakistan denies that it offers sanctuary to any armed groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, and the government and military have rejected Trump's strategy in earlier statements. 

The government, in turn, has demanded that US and Afghan forces take action against Pakistani Taliban groups it claims are operating from Afghan territory. That demand was reiterated in Wednesday's resolution.

Call for US cooperation review

The resolution also urged the government to review all cooperation with the US, including the use of air and ground supply routes by NATO troops in Afghanistan.

While the US-led military alliance has developed alternative supply routes to Afghanistan, the bulk of its logistical and military supplies are still routed through Pakistan.

The document also called on the government to "consider the postponement of any visits by US delegations to Pakistan or by Pakistani delegations/officials to the USA".

On Sunday, Pakistan postponed a planned trip to Islamabad by Alice Wells, the acting US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. A planned trip by Pakistani Foreign Minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif has also been put on hold.

Pakistani diplomats, meanwhile, have been holding a flurry meeting with regional allies, mainly China, to shore up support for the country's position that it has been fighting the Taliban and does not offer sanctuary to any armed groups.

On Monday, Deng Xijun, Chinese special envoy on Afghan affairs, met with Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

"Pakistan's efforts towards eliminating the scourge of terrorism should be fully recognised by the international community," Xijun said, according to a statement.

The meeting followed a three-day trip by Janjua to Beijing to meet with top Chinese officials immediately following the Trump policy announcement.

The resolution also called on the government to "formulate economic policies to deal with any situation arising out of the absence of US [financial] assistance".

Pakistan has been one of the top recipients of US civilian and military aid in the last decade. This year, it is due to receive $742.2m in assistance from Washington.

While strongly worded, the resolution passed by the lower house of parliament is not binding on the government.

Separately on Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met with top military and civilian officials in the capital to discuss Trump's policy announcement, a statement from his office said.


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