RAWALPINDI: A Foreign Office spokesman today [July 10] completely ruled out the possibility of Pakistan’s participation in the conference reportedly proposed to be convened at Kabul to discuss the idea of regional co-operation and transit trade between India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and the Soviet Union so long as fundamental disputes between Pakistan and India were not settled.

Asked to comment on the idea, recently mooted by the Soviet Prime Minister, the spokesman said: “So long as relations between Pakistan and India remain bedeviled by major disputes any talk of regional cooperation which includes the two countries would be unrealistic”. “Besides”, he added, “our view is that the proposal has little economic advantage for Pakistan.” The spokesman termed as mere speculations foreign Press reports raising hopes about Pakistan’s acceptance of the proposal.

In principle, Pakistan favours the idea of regional co-operation and this is manifest from her role in the RCD. But it is apparent that regional co-operation is possible only on the basis of sound bilateral and political relations and common objectives between the countries concerned. Any talk of such co-operation becomes meaningless if two of the major participants have unsettled basic disputes and, as a result, abnormal relations. — Correspondent

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2019