No change in foreign policy likely

Published June 28, 2004

ISLAMABAD, June 27: Mr Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri will continue as foreign minister in the new cabinet to be announced this week, and there will be no departure from the country's current foreign policy, Dawn has learnt through sources close to the presidency.

The new government set-up is expected to have more additions than knockouts, these sources said.

The establishment is satisfied with the performance of Mr Kasuri who took oath as the country's 19th foreign minister in November 2002, the sources said.

It is believed that Pakistan's latest round of political musical chairs is unlikely to call for a foreign policy review. The main reason being that President Gen Pervez Musharraf continues to be the chief fashioner of guidelines on foreign policy and national security issues.

"Pakistan's commitment to vital issues such as the ongoing peace process with India, war on terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation will remain unaffected," the sources said. Also, these sources maintained, Pakistan would stick to its position of not sending its forces to Iraq at this stage.

The foreign diplomatic community here too appears to have the confidence that the dramatic change in Islamabad will not result in any major changes in the country's foreign policy.

While the political change of guard in Islamabad has come as a surprise to many diplomats from key world capitals, they are not alarmed by it. They appear quite certain that on the two main issues of concern to the international community - nuclear non-proliferation and anti-Al Qaeda campaign - there will be no change in Islamabad's policy.

"After all the man who really matters and calls the shots on these matters is still there," remarked one western diplomat, obviously referring to President Musharraf.

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