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Govt failed in maintaining mutual trust with India

ISLAMABAD, March 14: Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar on Thursday admitted that despite having a strong will for improving ties with India, the PPP-led government failed to maintain an environment of trust between the two countries. Addressing a farewell news briefing at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the minister for foreign affairs admitted that despite making all-out efforts, and having the will, the government could not create an environment for mutual trust in which solution to the Kashmir issue as well as other mutual problems could be found. To a question, Khar acknowledged that there were disappointments vis-à-vis relations with India, including unfortunate and hostile statements that emanated from New Delhi. On India‚ she said‚ the leadership decided to start investing in friendship and trust-building instead of traditional hostility and animosity that the two countries witnessed in the past. She said many steps, including improvement of trade relations were taken. Despite the Indian home minister’s recent allegations that Pakistan was behind an attack in Srinagar, Khar insisted that the Pakistan-India peace process was essential for normalcy in the region. “The incidents cannot derail our commitment with India to promoting peace in the region,” Khar stated. She said Pakistan was willing to work on Sir Creek, adding that then prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi, were close to forging an agreement on Siachin. “Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project is in favour of Pakistan, not against any third country, as Pakistan is facing its worst energy crises and for overcoming it, the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline and other measures are needed. The project will bring the two nations closer.” She said relations with Iran were extremely important for Pakistan and the recent launch of the project would be a harbinger of good news for peace and mutual cooperation. “The democratic government demonstrated its commitment to having relations with Afghanistan on the basis of sovereign equality. We aspire for no role in Afghanistan than to facilitate the Afghan people on the course chosen by them for peace and reconciliation,” Khar said, adding that “Kabul is the most important capital for Pakistan”. To a question, she said on Pakistan’s desire‚ Afghanistan said in black and white that it wanted Pakistan’s cooperation in direct talks with the Taliban‚ holding of a clerics’ conference‚ safe passage for the Taliban who wish to travel for peaceful purpose and release of all Taliban prisoners. She said Pakistan had accepted all the demands and had immediately started responding positively. Khar then moved onto the ties between the US and Pakistan. She said the engagement was guided by parliament and was based on mutual respect. “Our engagement is guided by parliament and is based on mutual respect.” She said both countries “recognise each other’s importance and have complete alignment of interests in Afghanistan”. To another question, Khar said drone strikes continued to be a point of major divergence between Pakistan and the United States as Pakistan considered them illegal and unlawful. The foreign minister referred to initiation of strategic dialogue with GCC countries and focus on improving economic ties with the Russian Federation. She hoped that the European Union would grant GSP Plus status to Pakistan in the beginning of the next year, which would boost Pakistan’s exports. In the regional context‚ the foreign minister said China had been Islamabad’s strategic ally and the government focused on transferring politically strong relations into economically stronger ties. In this regard‚ she particularly referred to the historic GwadarPort agreement‚ Chinese investment in energy and infrastructure projects and President Asif Ali Zardari’s nine visits to China. To another question, Khar said the military had no constitutional role in making the foreign policy but like other organisations and institutions‚ the army too was consulted for its input on issues relating to security and defence. Earlier, the foreign minister said in the last five years, the country’s foreign policy was based on trust. “The focus of the foreign policy was national interest, welfare of the common man and peace and stability in the region.” She gave an overview of the challenges confronting the foreign policy during the last five years and how they were dealt with and converted into major opportunities. Khar said the democratic government pursued a proactive foreign policy focusing on region and taking decisions purely in national interests. She said the foreign policy was driven by confidence rather than fear and parliament provided guidelines for intensive engagement with the world. Khar said the priority of the foreign policy had been to provide peaceful and stable regional environment so that people could concentrate not on borders‚ disputes and animosity but on internal growth and stability.]]>

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