LAHORE: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said Pakistan is a sovereign state that wants friendly relations with all neighbouring countries, including India, but will not accept the hegemony of any country in the region.
“Pakistan’s role in the region is by no means inferior to India,” Khar said while talking to the media at the Lahore airport on her return from the ministerial meeting of the Asean regional forum here on Sunday.
Hina said outstanding issues with India could not be settled overnight, adding that the Kashmir issue is on the preferential agenda of Pakistan, which desires durable peace in the region.
The minister said the international community must extend cooperation to Pakistan in recognition of the country’s role as a frontline ally in combating terror.
To a query, she said she had a fruitful meeting with the Chinese foreign minister at the Asean forum and discussed Pak-China bilateral relations, adding that China is a time-tested friend of Pakistan and Pakistan is proud of this friendship.
The foreign minister said strategic relations with China were moving from strength to strength with each passing day.
About her meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she said Pak-US relations came under discussion at the meeting. She said a strong working relationship with the US was in the national interest of Pakistan. She said Pakistan’s reservations were conveyed to the US high official during the meeting and it was decided in the meeting that strategic relations between the two countries would be revived.
The minister said the US secretary of state expressed her will to bring relations back on track with Pakistan as well as remove any reservations between the countries. She said Pakistan and the US do have a difference of opinion on certain operational matters, expressing the hope that the differences could be resolved amicably.
Hina said the US secretary of state has agreed that there would be a meeting of Pak-US foreign ministers soon. “Whatever be the role of a country in the region, Pakistan’s importance cannot be diminished and the US acknowledges tis fact,” she responded.
The minister said bilateral ties and not a one-sided relationship with the US is required.
Regarding Ghulam Nabi Fai, she said the Kashmiri leader had rendered great services for the Kashmir cause in line with US law and the constitution, adding that Pakistan admired Dr Fai’s services for the Kashmiris.