Policy of Dialogue 'Irreversible': Ambassador Karamat

Washington, DC: Once a country with a clandestine nuclear program, Pakistan is now getting international cooperation in retaining its nuclear option, says Ambassador Jehangir Karamat.

Pakistan's newly appointed ambassador to the United States told a gathering at Washington's Brookings Institution on last Wednesday that since the military takeover in October 1999, the country had gone through 'a major strategic reorientation.'

"From a clandestine nuclear program with proliferation consequences, Pakistan has moved to a regime of command, control and international cooperation," said General Karamat. "From vendetta-oriented political leaderships and dictatorial regimes, Pakistan is moving slowly and surely towards sustainable democracy and political stability.

"From a military centric concept of security, Pakistan has realized the importance of a broader concept of security with the emphasis on economic and internal stability.
"From a policy of appeasement and political expediency with extremist religious elements, Pakistan has moved to confronting them to end their negative influence and activities.

"From a policy of hostility and confrontation with India, Pakistan now has a policy of dialogue and conflict resolution." This, he said, was a major strategic reorientation of the country and there's "a price to be paid for such strategic turnarounds."
Pakistan, he said, was also paying this price witnessed in "resistance and retaliation to the changes." "There are those who seek to raise this price by exploiting vulnerabilities - overtly and covertly, directly and indirectly - in the hope that there will be failure."

The ambassador said these developments were seldom discussed and debated in Pakistan perhaps because either people did not see it happening or believed that 'this is all eyewash.'
"Let me make out a case that this is for real, that it is irreversible and that the majority of Pakistanis consider these changes to be in the country's interest." The ambassador said Pakistan also was engaged in a major peace exercise with India and the 'direction and tone' for this dialogue was set at summit level meetings between the leaders of the two countries.
This peace process, he said, was backed by 'discreet bilateral track-one talks' between senior officials of the two nuclear neighbors. "In spite of difficulties and some provocative activities, the potential for ending conflict and confrontation is clearly discernible. Peace lobbies are developing and gaining influence among the people," he said.
Ambassador Karamat pointed out that along the Line of Control in Kashmir, a ceasefire has held for more than a year. The United States, he said, also 'plays a role' in keeping the situation stable by using 'the political capital it gains' through separate and bilateral relations with both India and Pakistan.

"Pakistan and India never went so far down the peace road before and never before did a Pakistani leader show the kind of flexibility and resolve as is being shown now," said Ambassador Karamat, a former chief of army staff who is regarded in Washington as the most powerful Pakistani ambassador to the US capital so far.
The ambassador said he would not call the situation irreversible, "but, I would say that a move back to the square one would be classified as a very great folly and not in the interest of either country."
He said Pakistan favored a UN presence in Kashmir, accepted the United States as a facilitator of peace with India, and was ready to implement restraint and confidence-building measures needed to enhance the peace process.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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