Pak pur­su­ing ac­tive ...

Pakistan Observer - - IN­TER­NA­TIONAL -

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.

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