In a rare admission, Pakistan's foreign minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday said that people like Hafiz Saeed and organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba are liabilities for the country but sought time to get rid of them.
The minister, however, said that Pakistan cannot be blamed for terrorists like Hafiz Saeed as these people were considered the 'darlings' of the United States and "dined and wined in the White House."
Speaking at the Asia Society forum here on Tuesday evening, Asif said it was very easy to say that Islamabad was floating the Haqqani network as well as Hafiz Saeed and his former Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
"They are liabilities. I accept, they are liabilities but give us time to get rid of these liabilities because we don't have assets to match these liabilities and you are increasing the them further," he added.
Mincing no word, Asif said, "Don't blame us for the Haqqanis and don't blame us for the Hafiz Saeeds. These were the people who were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back. They were being dined and wined in the White House and now you say 'go to hell Pakistanis because you are nurturing these people'."
Hafiz Saeed, who masterminded the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that left 166 people dead, is one of the most wanted terrorists in India and has so far enjoyed patronage by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's spy agency. He has been declared a global terrorist by the UN and the US for his role in the Mumbai attack and was placed under house arrest earlier this year. He has, however, faced no formal charge for his role in terror activities. New Delhi has been repeatedly asking Islamabad to prosecute him for his crimes.
His banned organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa recently floated a political party and plans to contest general elections next year.
Asif, who is attending the UN General Assembly, also addressed Pakistan's relationship with India saying a new initiative was needed to bring India and Pakistan to the negotiating table. Once again raising the "Kashmir dispute", he said the issue is the main source of tension between the two countries.
“The unprovoked violations on the LoC and the working boundary, escalating political rhetoric, excessive use of force against unarmed civilians in occupied Kashmir and harassment of minorities, particularly Muslims in India, do not bode well for peace, reconciliation and dialogue in South Asia," he said.
He said Pakistan had reached out to India to seek "normalisation of relations and resolution of all disputes through dialogue and engagement, but India did not reciprocate."
Asif said that there was no military solution to Afghanistan conflict and "scapegoating Pakistan for all the Afghan ills is neither fair nor accurate.”
Asif said Pakistan was ready to work with the US for effective management of the Afghan border to stop terrorist infiltration and to facilitate a peace settlement in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, he said, had done all it could to facilitate a political settlement in Afghanistan, making sure that Pakistani soil was not used against any country.
"We are mindful of the strong desire in the US to bring the 'long war' in Afghanistan to an end. We support this objective wholeheartedly and are ready to help in any way we could to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan."
He made it clear that there were clear limits to what Pakistan could do vis-a-vis Afghanistan.
"We cannot take responsibility for Afghanistan's peace and security and be asked to achieve what the combined strength of some of the most powerful and richest countries could not accomplish," he said.