ISLAMABAD: Former foreign secretary Riaz H Khokhar on Tuesday said Pakistan’s foreign policy would not produce any results unless “we set our own house in order”.
Speaking at a seminar on: ‘Pakistan’s Neighbourhood: Afghanistan, India, the Middle East’ organised by Institute for Policy Reforms (IPR) at Comstech Secretariat, he called upon Pakistan and India to sort out their issues as advised by US President Barack Obama while addressing the Nuclear Summit recently.
He said when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried to improve relations with India, though he faced criticism.
Former secretary says foreign policy will not produce any results ‘unless we set our own house in order’
While talking about CPEC he said that Chinese had not only shown concerns over security but over the capacity and the capability of Pakistan to complete the project.
“The security issue seems to have been addressed after Pakistan Army took over the CEPC security. But objections over the project is a serious source of concern for China and they have suggested to the government to take all the provinces on board over the project,” he said.
He lauded the government’s decision not to get involved in Yemen’s conflict, though Saudi Arabia wanted Pakistan Army there.
International affairs specialist Mr Anatol Lieven, who recently visited Afghanistan, said that Pakistan must continue supporting the peace process in Afghanistan.
With respect to relations with India, he said it was very wise decision by Pakistan and India not to escalate tension.
“For now, it is essential that conflict should not escalate,” he added.
“There is a need for a quiet dialogue between the intelligence agencies of the two countries,” he added.
He said in the Middle East, Pakistan must not get entangled in the rivalries between the countries. It was essential that Pakistan balanced its relations with Iran and the Gulf.
“Full integration into China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) holds great promise for the future of Pakistan’s economy. OBOR will make Pakistan a hub of regional connectivity. In order to do so, Pakistan must maintain internal stability and not allow further violence in the country,” he said.
Former Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi stated that Pakistan’s relations with its three neighbours — Afghanistan, Iran and India — were at a standstill.
“If Pakistan becomes unstable, the countries which are considering themselves stable will also become unstable,” he said.
IPR chairperson Humayun Akhtar Khan said the purpose of the discussion was to take stock of recent developments in Pakistan’s neighbourhood.
He said security in Afghanistan continued to be a concern. Last year alone, the country lost about 6,000 security personnel to violence. At the same time, the Taliban has gained more territory, he said, adding recently, renewed battles have taken place in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s announced spring offensive.
Regarding India, he referred to its continued programme of enhancing defence capability coupled with an active foreign policy. He expressed the hope that Pakistan would adopt more calibrated approach towards India.
While replying to a question that why Pakistan does not enjoy good relations with three, out of four, neighbours and weather this was it a failure of the Foreign Office, Mr Khokhar said that the Foreign Office can only advise and suggest the options.
“Decisions are made by the leadership. Once a policy is made Foreign Office has to implement it,” he said.
Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2016