Pakistan PM Abbasi says hasn't received specific demands from US on combating alleged militant sanctuaries

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi speaks with a Reuters correspondent during an interview at his office in Islamabad, Pakistan on Sept 11, 2017.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi speaks with a Reuters correspondent during an interview at his office in Islamabad, Pakistan on Sept 11, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD (Bloomberg) - Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said he hasn't received specific demands from the US on combating alleged militant sanctuaries at the border with Afghanistan, following President Donald Trump's announcement of a new South Asia strategy last month.

"We haven't received any list of measures," Mr Abbasi told reporters in Islamabad on Tuesday (Sept 12).

On the issue of militant sanctuaries in Pakistan, "we are open to bilateral verification, we are open to joint patrolling, we are open to joint posts" with Afghanistan, he said.

Mr Trump accused Pakistan in an Aug 21 speech of continuing to provide safe haven to terrorist groups, such as the Haqqani Network, and allowing them to use its soil to attack troops in Afghanistan, a charge that Islamabad denies.

As part of the new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, Mr Trump said his government would take a tough position on Pakistan.

"We have nothing to hide; as a general rule, you do not punish allies," Mr Abbasi said when asked about US plans to get tough on Pakistan, including cutting billions of dollars worth of military and financial aid.

Pakistan's forces have long been accused of covertly supporting insurgent groups that strike inside neighbouring Afghanistan and India, while targeting outfits that threaten its own domestic security.

Afghanistan's government is slowly losing its grip, with the Taleban now controlling or contesting about 40 per cent of the country, which US officials say couldn't be possible without help from Pakistan's military.

The US in previous offensives in Afghanistan used drones to attack alleged terrorists in Pakistan. Nato troops have also used Pakistani ports and roads to move equipment into landlocked Afghanistan.

Both Pakistan's civilian government and military reacted angrily to Mr Trump's statement. Army Chief of Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa said Pakistan doesn't want US assistance, but recognition of its own efforts to combat terrorism, pointing to thousands of its own troops who have died in operations in more than a decade.

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, younger brother of Mr Abbasi's predecessor - Mr Nawaz Sharif - who was barred from office in July after a probe into his family's finances, also called for an end to American aid last month.

Mr Abbasi himself in an interview last month said Mr Trump's Afghanistan plan, which called on Pakistan's arch-rival India to play a greater role in the conflict, is poised to fail.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif is on a trip to Turkey, following visits to China and Iran, to discuss an Afghan peace strategy, Mr Abbasi said.

Mr Trump's statement would be part of the discussions during Mr Asif's visit, he said.