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Monday April 22, 2024

Civil nuclear energy: Kasuri says China agreed to sign accord with Pakistan way back in 2003

The former foreign minister emphasized the need for internal unity if Pakistan was to ensure meaningful progress in the field of foreign policy

By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
March 19, 2023
Former foreign minister Mian Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. The News/File
Former foreign minister Mian Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. The News/File 

ISLAMABAD: Former foreign minister Mian Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri has revealed that China agreed to sign an agreement with Pakistan way back in 2003 in the field of civil nuclear energy before joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) while the United States declined to cooperate with Pakistan for the same in the face of AQ Khan affair. The Chinese continued their cooperation and facilitated in establishing many nuclear power plants in Pakistan.

The former foreign minister emphasized the need for internal unity if Pakistan was to ensure meaningful progress in the field of foreign policy.

“In the current state of disunity and lack of direction in Pakistan, no country, friend or foe, knows how or who to deal with in Pakistan. This is a very dangerous situation and cannot be allowed to continue. It is the primary duty of all the stakeholders in Pakistan to bring this to an end.”

Mian Kasuri was addressing a ceremony at the Government College University, Lahore, where he was bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions in international relations and diplomacy, promoting Pakistan’s relations with major world capitals and neighbours and for his efforts to promote regional peace and connectivity.

The former foreign minister, who served the country from November 2002 to Nov 2007, also disclosed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked Pakistan to continue the dialogue for Kashmir dispute’s resolution under the famous four-point formula that was mooted in his tenure as foreign minister.

He expressed his happiness at the fact that the recent book, ‘In Pursuit of Peace’ by former Indian ambassador to Pakistan and negotiator for backchannel talks during PM Manmohan Singh’s tenure Ambassador S K Lambah, had comprehensively confirmed that what Mian Kasuri had said in his book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove’ published much earlier that Pakistan and India had agreed to resolve all the outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.

Kasuri expressed his pleasant surprise at Lambah’s revelation that Modi asked him to continue the dialogue in 2014 on the same four-point formula. The former foreign minister said that he was aware that because of the negativity engendered by Hindutva supporters under the Modi government, the relationship between the two countries had become exceedingly tense.

PM Modi, Kasuri said, cannot rule India forever. Even at the best of times, he was able to secure about 37% of the total votes with an overwhelming majority voting for parties who are, by and large, opposed to the current policies of the BJP government on Muslims, Kashmir and Pakistan.

“There was no guarantee that Modi would not change his extremist policies, either before or after elections. After all, Modi had paid a surprise visit to Lahore in December 2015 to meet former PM Nawaz Sharif,” Mian Kasuri said.

Besides India, he said, during his tenure, exceptionally close relationship was forged between Pakistan and Bangladesh and he remained in a close personal relationship with his counterpart, Morshed Khan.

He also made sure to cultivate close relationship with PM Khalida Zia and the then opposition leader and current PM, Hasina Wajed.

Similarly, close ties were developed with Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Mian Khurshid Kasuri went on to describe the success of the government at that time in establishing close relationship with the US and China, at the same time. A broad-based Strategic Partnership Agreement with the United States was formalised, which aimed to promote cooperation in different fields, including economic development, science and technology, education, energy, agriculture, and a regular strategic dialogue.

Pakistan had the largest Fulbright program for sending students to the US. Additionally, he said that the US agreed to not only sell new F-16s, which it had denied to Pakistan for long, but also agreed to upgrade Pakistan’s fleet of F-16s.

In defence matters, cooperation between Pakistan and China has been comprehensive and it involved joint production of advanced weapon systems, including modern and sophisticated JF-17 aircraft, Al-Khalid main battle tanks and F-22P frigates for the navy. Pakistan paid special attention to its relationship with Muslim states and exceptionally close relationships were forged with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and Iran.

Despite difficulties, there were many high-level visits to and from Afghanistan and trade increased from a mere US$23 million to over US$1.2 billion.

Khurshid Kasuri said that Pakistan forged very close relationships with Britain, France and Germany and despite the fact that Pakistan was a close ally of the US, it vigorously opposed the United States’ proposed attack on Iraq and closely cooperated in this connection with the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Russia.

As a result, the US was unable to get the support of the UN and consequently decided to attack Iraq anyway with the support of the Coalition of the Willing with disastrous consequences for both Iraq and the US.

Mian Kasuri emphasized the need to redress some of Pakistan’s weaknesses, particularly to ensure that there was continuation of policies to ensure economic development. There was also a need for basic agreement between major stakeholders, so that these policies could continue despite change in governments. This could not take place with so much internal disunity.