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February 12, 2017

Russia, China to play vital role in regional changes: Sartaj

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February 12, 2017

Says India trying to isolate Pakistan; Islamabad will give befitting reply to

New Delhi on every front; terms ties with Afghanistan complicated

KARACHI: Outlining both the positive and negative aspects of Pakistan’s foreign policy, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, said on Saturday that the root cause of Pakistan-India acrimony was the Kashmir issue.

He expressed these views while addressing a gathering of members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), intellectual elite of the town, and the media at the institute on Saturday afternoon.

He said that Russia and China will play a vital role in bringing about regional changes.

As for ties with Afghanistan, he said that Pakistan was making sincere efforts to resolve her differences with Afghanistan. In this context, he cited the parleys between the Pakistan and Afghan governments in Murree in July 2016 which, he said, were derailed. The Afghan refugees, he said, had become a threat with over 70,000 people having been killed in the country and ecological damage to the KP province to the tune of 150 billion dollars.

He said India was trying to isolate Pakistan but Pakistan will give a befitting reply on every front to New Delhi.

Sartaj said as Modi came on the scene, anti-Pakistan policies and rhetoric became the narrative and relations kept worsening. He said the last straw on the camel’s back was the killing of the Kashmiri youth, Burhan Wani, by the Indian security forces. The worst part of it, he said, was that the Indians were refusing to acknowledge their guilt and claimed that Wani was a Pakistani agent who had crossed over to Kashmir with the sole motive of stirring up trouble.

The killings in Kashmir, he said, had grave consequence, though now even the Indian media were constrained to admit that the movement in Kashmir was purely indigenous.

“We shall have to have global pressure exerted on India to put her defence budget, which has far outstripped Pakistan’s over the last two years, on a leash. We shall have to mobilise the global situation to expose the false Indian narrative,” said Sartaj.

He said that by admitting India into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, the purpose of non-proliferation would be defeated and that Pakistan would have to strive to have requisite laws drafted in this regard.

Recounting his government’s anti-terror measures, he said that their government, after coming to power in 2013, started off Operation Swat whereby the writ of the government in a majority area of Swat had been restored, along the tribal belt. The intrusion of Daesh into Pakistan, he said, was posing another headache but said that we would overcome the irritant soon.

“Our anti-terror efforts have been widely acknowledged across the globe”, he said.

“Our relations with the Islamic bloc, the Middle East, Russia, and China have improved markedly”, he said.

As for ties with the USA, he said that a marked freeze had taken place in our ties till 2011, and in particular in that year we had the unpleasant events like the Raymond Davis case but as our government was ushered in, we started refreshing our approach. He said we still had differences with the US on the matter of Afghanistan but working groups had been set up in this regard to iron out the differences.

“Foreign policy is not just foreign relations but is an exercise to express core values and ideals of a nation”, he said. Foreign policy, he said, could not be framed in a vacuum but the global realities had to be taken into account. It could not be framed in isolation, he said.

He said that another phenomenon being observed in the present-day world was the inward-looking policies mostly arising from xenophobic tendencies. In the regard, he cited the case of Brexit and Donald

Trump’s xenophobic policy towards the people of other faiths, and immigrants.

He said that the economic growth rate had come down since 2006 because of a marked decline of investment which, in turn, resulted from the security situation which had global ramifications.

He expressed optimism that after a decade, loadshedding and power breakdowns would be a thing of the past.