Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi sat down for his first international television interview on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.
The premier started off the interview with CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour by talking about the current tensions in US-Pakistan relations. The PM said , “We believe that this relationship is not defined only by Afghanistan. It is a 70-year old relationship. And we have always been an ally, especially in the war against terror.”
“We may have differences of opinion, but we want to work with the US to counter the menace of terrorism,” he added.
Amanpour also asked Abbasi whether Pakistan considered terrorism a bigger threat to its existence than the rivalry with India. “Terrorism is a threat to everybody,” he replied, adding that, “India is a force with which Pakistan has fought many wars. India is a threat to Pakistan. It is also a nuclear power. We accept that. Pakistan is also a nuclear power.”
“Pakistan developed nuclear weapons against the threat that India posed to us,” Abbasi underscored.
Amanpour was of the opinion that the US government was in the process of dropping Pakistan as an ally, quoting a former Pakistani diplomat as saying that Trump’s new Afghan policy was the end of the rope.
“I met US Vice President Mike Pence and explained Pakistan’s position, just as I explained it to you a few moments ago. We don’t expect a significant shift in US policy anytime soon,” PM Abbasi said.
“We will continue to work with the US in the war against terror. The enemy is the same for both of us.”
Amanpour also wanted Abbasi’s take on the North Korean standoff and the Iran nuclear deal, asking, “What is your concern right now, given that its your region that is in the cross-hairs? What can be done to reign in North Korea?”
“I think North Korea should submit to the international regulatory authorities and act responsibly,” he replied.
PM Abbasi categorically denied that Pakistan had contributed anything to the North Korean nuclear programme while stressing that Pyongyang needed to behave responsibly.
Commenting on the enigma surrounding the Trump presidency, the PM noted that there was a difference between official US policy and Trump’s commentaries, but Pakistan still wanted to work with him.
“I think Pakistan needs to work with the US on issues that relate to the world, especially terrorism,” Abbasi said.