Pak pursuing active ...
a policy of non-interference in Afghan affairs and had no favourites among Afghan groups.
Asked why Afghanistan was objecting to the erection of a gate at Torkham border, he said it might like to have a loose border through which timber, marble and drugs could be smuggled across the border.
On relations with India, he said Pakistan wanted to have peaceful relations with India but it would not back down from its principled stance over Kashmir. If there has to be an improvement in relations between the two countries, there have to be a dialogue on all issues including the core issue of Kashmir, he added. However, Pakistan did not want to escalate tension with India and its minimum objective was to avoid further tension with its neighbor.
On Indian quest to become member of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), he said it was not acceptable to Pakistan that despite being a nonsignatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (NPT), India should become its member. Pakistan therefore had emphasised that a criteria-based approach should be followed as Pakistan and India had not signed the NPT. Hence, if India was to become an NSG member, Pakistan should also be given this opportunity. Secondly, if India alone was given membership it would undermine the strategic stability in the region and many countries were convinced of this argument advanced by Pakistan, he said. It was not only China and Turkey but many other countries like Brazil, Austria, Kazakhstan, Norway and Switzerland which supported Pakistani stance in NSG, he mentioned.
However, Sartaj said the issue of the NSG membership had not gone away, hence, Pakistan was working out a postSeoul Strategy on it. “We will continue our diplomatic offensive in this regard”, Sartaj said.
On Pak-US relations, Sartaj Aziz said, overall relations between the two countries were good as they were engaged in six working groups for cooperation in counterterrorism, energy, education and many other important areas. Both countries were also engaged in strategic dialogue but there were divergence of views on some issues like nuclear issue.
He said Pakistan had its own nuclear policy and it would not allow anyone what should be its contours and how it should maintain its minimum credible nuclear deterrence. Pakistan relations with the US were intact and our priorities were right but there were difficulties due to geo-political circumstances, he added. The US relations with India were not at the expense of Pakistan, he added.
Asked about the eight F-16 deal with the US which could not materialise as the US withdrew its subsidy, he said, Pakistan was looking for alternatives and was in talks with China, Russia and other countries to diversify its sources for fulfilling its defense needs.
Sartaj said if seen the big picture, the United States was following a policy of containing China in this region and had developed close relations with India. While Russia and China together, were playing their own role in this part of the world. As Pakistan’s future was tied in this region hence it had to balance its relations with all its neighbours and other countries.
On the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said it was a quantum jump with its historic relations with China. Pakistan, he said, was determined to implement CPEC and had created a special force to ensure protection of its workers.
He said the importance of the CPEC could be gauged from the fact that within a span of 12 months all its projects were nearing financial close because of the special priority accorded to it by the top Chinese leadership. This multi-billion project was very important for the countries of the entire region as it would provide them connectivity and generate huge economic activity.
Referring to the elections contested by Pakistan at various international forums, he said, of the 18 elections, it had won 17 while lost only one election, adding this would not have been possible without an active foreign policy. Pakistan, he said had been playing very active role in OIC, SCO and had been actively involved with the GCC countries to export its skilled labour.
Asked about Indian moves to forge relations with Saudi Arabia and GCC countries, he said India was a big market and had exportable surplus so the countries wanted economic relations with it. However Pakistan’s relations with these countries were historic and deep-rooted hence would not be influenced by such developments.
On Pak-Iran relations, he said given the then Western sanctions on Iran, the two countries had decided to develop GwadarNawabshah LNG pipeline which would be completed by 2017 to the benefit of the two sides. He said Pakistan’s overall relations with Iran were good and historic. Iran had made it clear that its soil would not be allowed to be used against Pakistan, he added.
Similarly, its relations with Saudi Arabia were cordial and deep-rooted and Pakistan had joined 34 countries alliance against terrorism. Pakistan was maintaining balanced and positive relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, he added.