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Pakistan's 'monumental' foreign policy achievements show it is not isolated: Aziz

Updated August 03, 2016


Sartaj Aziz, Nawaz Sharif and Tariq Fatemi attending the envoys' conference at the Foreign Office on Wednesday. ─ PM House.
Sartaj Aziz, Nawaz Sharif and Tariq Fatemi attending the envoys' conference at the Foreign Office on Wednesday. ─ PM House.

ISLAMABAD: An 'objective assessment' of Pakistan's foreign relations since the PML-N government came to power "does not support the view projected in sections of the media that Pakistan is being isolated and its foreign policy lacks direction", Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said at the concluding session of the envoys' conference held at the Foreign Office on Wednesday.

Read more: Pakistan's foreign policy betrays deep domestic insecurities

Pakistan's 'monumental' foreign policy achievements over the past three years, according to Sartaj Aziz:

• Pak-China ties
• Casa-1000 power project
• Tapi gas pipeline
• Restoration of air links with C. Asian countries
• Shanghai Cooperation Organisation membership
• Resumption of dialogue with US
• Deeper economic links to EU, Russia
• Exporting labour to Middle Eastern countries

Flanked by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who also addressed conference participants during the session, Aziz said Pakistan's "monumental achievements" over the past three years are illustrated by the undertaking of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and a strategic partnership with China.

Pakistan's second greatest foreign policy achievement since the PML-N came to power is enhanced cooperation with Central Asian republics in the form of the Casa-1000 power project and the Tapi gas pipeline ─ construction on which began in May 2016 and December 2015 respectively ─ and restoration of air links with C. Asian countries, Aziz said.

Read more: Foreign policy or fiasco?

Membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which reflects "new geo-political alignments" will show Pakistan is "on the right side of history", Aziz said. The bloc was originally formed to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighbouring Afghanistan. Other members include China, Russia, India and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

The foreign affairs adviser went on to list strategic dialogue with the United States, broadening the agenda from security to geo-economics "while protecting national interests", deeper trade ties to the European Union and Russia, and "strengthening economic ties" with Middle Eastern countries through exporting labour as part of Pakistan's foreign policy achievements.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the concluding session said Pakistan has concerns on certain issues and expects other countries to 'take care of them', Radio Pakistan reported.

The premier added that other countries' concerns will also have to be understood by Pakistan.

Nawaz urged envoys to promote a positive image of Pakistan to other countries, saying the responsibility to introduce Pakistan as an emerging market rests with ambassadors, who should take up the promotion of foreign investment in Pakistan as their mission.

Resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN resolutions is a cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy, Nawaz said, adding that envoys should apprise the world that the dispute is not an internal matter of India.

The prime minister was of the opinion that the CPEC would prove to be a 'game-changer' and guarantee regional peace and prosperity for Pakistan.

The premier also said the quadrilateral mechanism for Afghan peace talks should be taken forward, and that Pakistan would support efforts focusing on reviving peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used against any other country, he said.

The envoys' conference was to take up issues including ties with India (especially within the context of the Kashmir uprising), US, Afghanistan, China, Russia, and the EU; the Saarc summit; Nuclear Suppliers Group membership and disarmament affairs; and terrorism and UN-related matters.

The envoys attending the conference are Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani (Washington), Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi (United Nations — New York), High Commissioner Abdul Basit (New Delhi), Ambassador Masood Khalid (Beijing), Ambas­sador Qazi Khalilullah (Moscow), Am­bassador Tehmina Janjua (Uni­ted Nations — Geneva and Confe­rence on Disarmament), Ambassador Nagmana Hashmi (Brussels and EU), Ambassador Ayesha Riyaz (Vienna and IAEA) and Ambassador Abrar Hussain (Kabul).