Tuesday January 31, 2023

FM Bilawal stresses need to review counter-terrorism policy to prevent militancy resurgence

"We won’t take a solo flight on the matter of recognition of the Afghan govt,” FM Bilawal says, urging int'l community to get engaged with interim govt

By APP & Web Desk
November 18, 2022
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks during an interaction session with journalists  at Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 18, 2022. — INP/File
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks during an interaction session with journalists  at Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 18, 2022. — INP/File

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari Friday said Pakistan would not take a solo flight to recognise the interim government of Afghanistan and stressed reviewing the country’s counter-terrorism policy to prevent the resurgence of militancy.

Addressing a press conference held on the six months of the government’s foreign policy, Bilawal emphasised the need for an “in-camera review” to reform the approach to counter-terrorism in a bid to prevent the factors that gave rise to militancy in the past.

In response to a question regarding the link between peace in Afghanistan and countering the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the foreign minister said it was important to internally review the policy.

“Never think that TTP’s matter is in black and white as either it would be war or negotiations with them,” he said, highlighting that Pakistan in recent years had undergone a successful journey to eliminate terrorism and extremism from its soil.

‘Won’t take a solo flight on recognition of Afghan govt’

Shedding light on the closure of the Chaman border, he said terrorist attacks on Pakistan’s security forces from the Afghan side led to the closure of the border and urged the Afghan government to take measures accordingly.

“When we came to power, we decided to engage with Afghan authorities regardless of our differences for the greater national interest. We won’t take a solo flight on the matter of recognition of the Afghan government,” he maintained.

He said peace in Afghanistan was crucial for Pakistan and the region, requesting the international community to get engaged with the interim government of Afghanistan to avert a humanitarian crisis.

Bilawal also called upon the authorities in Afghanistan to fulfil the pledges, especially related to human rights and women’s education.

‘Nothing wrong in reexamining our approach’

Bilawal said the coalition government had made efforts to restore the foreign policy objectives by holding “meaningful high-level diplomatic” engagements.

The foreign minister mentioned that the country’s foreign policy was on a positive trajectory to help achieve the goals of development by addressing important issues including counter-terrorism and security and economic cooperation.

He, however, said: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong in admitting we were wrong in some things and right in other things and reexamining our approach and recalibrating the way that we deal with this issue in the context of the developments in our region.”

Bilawal accepts terrorist attacks increased in last one year

The foreign minister mentioned that the nation’s whole-hearted support helped end terrorism from the tribal areas including North Waziristan.

However, he pointed out the involvement of a neighbouring country in carrying out nefarious activities of terrorism in Balochistan.

Commenting on the increasing terror attacks in Pakistan, FM Bilawal said: "Terrorist attacks have increased in the last year. The increase will have to be reviewed again."

The foreign minister, while speaking regarding the ongoing skirmishes at the Pakistan and Afghanistan border in Balochistan, said: "A terror incident has occurred at the Pak-Afghan border. An Indian spy was caught in Balochistan. But despite the difficulties, we want peaceful relations."

The minister added that the people of Pakistan kicked terrorists out of their territories.

‘Pakistan-US relations de-hyphenated’

The foreign minister said the government’s focus was to prioritise the national interest and emphasised maintaining a balanced relationship and a positive outreach with all countries including the United States and China.

He said the relations between Pakistan and the US had been “de-hyphenated”.

He mentioned that due to GSP Plus, the country’s export outlook witnessed an exponential growth of 80% in recent times.

The foreign minister emphasised focusing on “trade instead of aid” with other countries to put the country on the path of economic stability.

‘We welcome Imran Khan’s latest U-turn’

Commenting on PTI chief Imran Khan’s “U-turn” on alleged foreign conspiracy, Bilawal said: “We welcome the latest U-turn of Mr. Khan on leaving the American conspiracy behind”.

He stressed that there had never been a conspiracy by the United States as was earlier stated by Khan. “Pakistan and the US enjoyed a historic relationship in the interest of their people,” he maintained.

"Khan sahib's comment about American conspiracy exists. He himself accepts he took a U-turn. There neither was an American conspiracy nor it still is," the foreign minister said.

Terming the current political climate in the country “a storm in the teacup”, he said the discussion around Khan’s narrative about the United States conspiring against him should stop.