Policy of Dialogue 'Irreversible':
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.
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
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 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.