Pakistan needs to review internal security and terrorism policies: FM Bilawal

Published November 18, 2022
<p>Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV</p>

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday said that Pakistan perhaps needed to review its internal security policies and decisions in the wake of rising terrorist incidents and protests against them.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Bilawal said the residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and South Waziristan had always supported peace and confronted terrorism.

“Obviously if they feel, right or wrong, that terrorists are returning, they are protesting which is their right. Our responsibility as the government and the state is to ensure peace, rule of law and the state’s writ.

“I suggested to one of the questions before you that perhaps it is time for an in-camera internal review on decisions regarding terrorism and internal security,” the foreign minister said.

To a later question about war or negotiation being the only methods available to deal with the banned militant Tehreek-i-Taliban group, FM Bilawal said: “I never think it is as easy as black and white — either war or negotiations.”

He said he had a “different approach” to the issue from the previous government’s decisions in the past regarding it.

“At this moment too I think that it will be necessary for us to internally review this policy [of black and white] and I don’t think there’s anything wrong in admitting we were wrong in some things and right in other things and reexamining our approach and recalibrating the way that we deal with this issue in the context of the developments in our region.”

The foreign minister said there was a significant increase in terrorist attacks after regional changes in the past year or so, pointing to the Karachi University attack and numerous incidents in KP.

Bilawal said there was a need again for a consensus on tackling this new wave of terrorism, suggesting again that an in-camera review was needed of state policy towards terrorism.

“We can’t afford a return to the dangerous days of terrorism.”

Chaman border attack

Questioned about the Chaman border attack and the Foreign Office’s response to it, the foreign minister said that his ministry uses “diplomatic language” when addressing any issue.

Elaborating on the situation, he said that the border was closed despite not wanting to because of the “terrorist incident”. “We condemn whichever group is involved in terrorism and expect our neighbouring country will take appropriate action against them,” FM Bilawal added.

On Afghanistan, Bilawal said Pakistan did not want to take a “solo flight” on its recognition and rather, pursue the process with international consensus.

He said Pakistan wanted Afghanistan to show progress in safeguarding its neighbours from terrorism and that the interim Afghan government should complete its promises to the world, including those about female education.

The foreign minister also stressed the importance of global engagement with Afghanistan, saying the humanitarian situation in the country had reached a “dangerous level”.

Pak-US relations ‘de-hyphenated’

Reviewing the FO’s six-month performance, FM Bilawal said relations between Pakistan and the US had been “de-hyphenated”.

He said the government’s focus was to prioritise national interest and emphasise maintaining a balanced relationship and a positive outreach with all countries, including the US and China.

Bilawal said the coalition government had put in good efforts to restore foreign policy objectives by holding “meaningful” high-level diplomatic engagements.

He mentioned that the country’s foreign policy was on a positive trajectory to help achieve development goals by addressing important issues, including counter-terrorism and security and economic cooperation.

The foreign minister said persistent implementation of the Financial Action Task Force’s action plans about countering money laundering and terror financing would remain high on the government’s agenda.

He mentioned that due to GSP Plus, the country’s export outlook witnessed an exponential growth of 80 per cent in recent times.

The foreign minister said Pakistan was actively pursuing activities at various international forums including the United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Conference of Parties, G-77 etc.

Bilawal emphasised focusing on “trade instead of aid” with other countries to put the country on the path of economic stability.

He regretted that wrongdoings of the past resulted in agricultural and educational crises in the country.

FM Bilawal said Pakistan wanted peaceful engagement with all neighbouring countries to ensure regional development and prosperity. However, he pointed out the involvement of a neighbouring country in carrying out “nefarious activities of terrorism” in Balochistan.

Regarding the climate disaster affecting Pakistan, he stressed continued support at the national and international levels to minimise the catastrophic impact on the economy.

On the Pak-Iran gas pipeline, he emphasised the resolution of issues and hurdles through the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action so as to get the maximum benefit from the development project.

He called for dialogue and diplomacy to address the common challenges of the world.

‘Welcome Imran’s U-turn’

Asked about the change in PTI chief Imran Khan’s stance regarding the ‘US cable conspiracy’, he said, “We welcome the latest U-turn of Mr Khan on leaving the American conspiracy behind”.

He stressed that there had never been a conspiracy by the United States as was earlier stated by Imran. Bilawal said Pakistan and the US enjoyed a “historic relationship” in the interest of their people.

He termed the current political climate in the country a “storm in the teacup”.

The foreign minister termed the killing of senior journalist Arshad Sharif a “traumatic incident”, adding that serious efforts were being made with regard to the proper conclusion of the case.

He said the PPP always stressed prioritising the issues pertaining to the citizens of Pakistan and rising above politics in their interest.

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