September 08 , 2017


Envoys conference in Islamabad evolves new foreign policy narrative
* Kh Asif says new narrative is aimed at bridging gap in perception of Pakistan and the international community on the issue of fighting terrorism

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif Thursday said that Pakistan has to determine a new but correct direction in the backdrop of emerging alliances.

Briefing media about deliberations at the three-day conference of Pakistani envoys in Islamabad, the minister said a new foreign policy narrative has been evolved which would be finalised after input by the National Security Committee and the parliament.

He said the new narrative is aimed at bridging the gap in the perception of Pakistan and some members of the international community on the issue of fighting terrorism.

“We are undergoing a seismic shift,” Kh Asif said during the press conference, referring to the ‘altering’ regional and international situation.

He added that the geopolitical changes taking place in the world were unprecedented. “Perhaps, such changes were not even witnessed after the Second World War. New alignments have been made ... strategic policies are dictating nations’ interests. We [Pakistan] have to review these situations pragmatically and take the right direction. We have to quickly adjust our direction,” he said.

The minister said that Pakistan is the only country winning the war against terrorism. He said today Karachi, Waziristan, Khyber and Bajaur are peaceful and the situation is constantly improving.

He said the envoys had in-depth discussions on the new policy of the United States for South Asia and Pakistan’s relations with the neighboring countries, especially India.

He said Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States briefed the participants on the US policy, which helped crystallise many issues. Similarly, Pakistan’s high commissioner to India briefed the conference about Pakistan-India relations.

The minister said that there is a 50- to 60-year-long history behind the Washington policy and the regional situation ‘which is gradually unfolding’.

“In my personal view, [in the course of this history], we have only incurred losses and haven’t gained much,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of time — the developing regional situations do not allow us to take our time,” the minister reiterated, stressing on the urgency of the matter.

Kh Asif stressed that the United States (US) should respect Pakistan’s territorial integrity. “We want to stay engaged with the United States. We have had a long relationship with them, spanning 70 years,” he said but lamented that people in Washington do not have a full comprehension of the facts. He said, “We will defend our territorial integrity and not sacrifice it at any cost. We expect the US to accept that. They (US) are in a way oblivious to what is happening in the region. We will not accept scapegoating of Pakistan.”

The foreign minister said that coalition forces in Afghanistan numbered more than 100,000 but could not achieve the same level of success. “If more than 100,000 soldiers from 16 countries could not succeed [in Afghanistan], we should not be blamed,” he said.

“The war can be won with Pakistan’s experience and not without Pakistan’s cooperation,” suggested Asif while referring to the 16-year long Afghan conflict. “We will further Pakistan’s narrative through our envoys in other countries and the Pakistani diaspora should also do the same.”

“Our existence and sovereignty are on the line. The stakes are much higher for us when compared to other countries,” he said.

Kh Asif said Pakistan’s role in the war against terror will be highlighted during his visit to China and Iran and on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session. He said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abassi in his address to the UNGA will also highlight the Kashmir issue.

To a question, the minister said that Pakistan’s relations with India revolve around Kashmir issue.

To a question, he said that Pakistan was ready to play any role for removing the differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

To a question about the issue of Rohingya Muslims, the foreign minister said that the issue will be discussed during the forthcoming conference of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation to be attended by the President of Pakistan.



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