Pak-india animosity holding SAARC region hostage
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar Thursday said that the democratic government pursued a proactive foreign policy focusing on region and taking decisions purely in the light of national interests.
Addressing a news conference in Islamabad this afternoon she gave an overview of the challenges confronted in the domain of foreign policy during the last five years and how they were dealt with and converted into major opportunities.
The minister said the foreign policy was driven by confidence rather than fear and the Parliament provided guidelines for intensive engagement with the world.
She said the priority of the foreign policy has been to pro- vide peaceful and stable regional environment so that people could concentrate not on borders, disputes and animosity but on internal growth and stability. In the regional context, the Foreign Minister said, “China has been our strategic ally and the present government focused on transferring politically strong relations into economically strong ties.
She particularly referred to historic Gwadar Port agreement, Chinese investment in energy and infrastructure projects and President Asif Ali Zardari’s nine visits to China. About India, she said, the leadership decided to start investing in friendship and trust building instead of traditional hostility and animosity that the two countries witnessed in the past.
She said many steps includ- ing improvement of trade relations were taken to build trust with India. Replying to a question the Foreign Minister acknowledged that there were disappointments vis-a-vis relations with India including unfortunate and hostile statements that emanated from that country on cross-LoC incidents.
She said, “Pakistan wants resolution of Kashmir dispute but pointed out that there was not required level of trust at the moment for resolution of the issue through dialogue.” She said Pakistan is willing to work on Sir Creek and then Prime Ministers Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi were close to agreement on Siachin but the progress was later marred. The Foreign Minister said the democratic government demonstrated its commitment to have relations with Afghanistan on the basis of sovereign equality.
“We aspire for no role in Afghanistan than to facilitate Afghan people on the course chosen by them for peace and reconciliation,” she added. To a question she said on the desire of Pakistan, Afghanistan was conveyed in black and white that it wanted cooperation of Pakistan in direct talks with Taliban, holding of Ulema conference, safe passage for Taliban that wish to travel for peaceful purpose and release of all Taliban prisoners.
She said Pakistan accepted all the demands and started responding positively immediately. She said relations with Iran are extremely important for Pakistan and the recent launch of IP will be a harbinger of good news for peace and cooperation.