ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is leaving her office on the completion of the tenure of PPP government dismayed with India and sceptical about prospects of resolution of core disputes, including Kashmir, in near future.
Speaking at her last press conference at the Foreign Office in which she recapped the achievements of PPP government on the foreign policy front and the challenges confronted by it, Ms Khar mentioned her “deep disappointment” over Indian leadership’s handling of the situation after incidents along the Line of Control in January, which led to renewed tensions between the two countries and gave an impression of another pause in the normalisation process.
Ms Khar emphasised on how much the PPP government had politically invested to improve relations with Delhi. She particularly pointed to the efforts made for normalising trade relations and said though trade normalisation was not a domestically popular move but PPP leadership felt it “was the right thing to do”.
The foreign minister said the PPP government had jettisoned six decades of animosity and hostility towards India and initiated a policy of trust-building.
“We decided that it was time to start changing the environment, the narrative and the mindset and to start investing in friendship and trust-building and serious mature relations with each other rather than investing in hostility and animosity,” Ms Khar said.
The decision to normalise the bilateral relations, she said, was determined by the “requirements of the future rather than the hangover of the past”.
Asking India not to remain hostage to its domestic politics, she said both neighbours needed to make their dialogue process uninterruptible.
“We tried to solve the problem of Kashmir through war (and) we have failed. Let’s give creating trust a chance,” she said.
The outgoing foreign minister advised against being too hopeful of resolution of the core issues. “For any movement, we need a conducive environment. If you expect Kashmir to be resolved today, it is not possible. The level of mistrust in both countries has to be reduced.”
Lack of progress on the core issues of Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and water led to disenchantment among the masses. Trade was the only major area in which the two countries were able to move forward.
Ms Khar said the government pursued an independent foreign policy that was not hostile to any country or region. She particularly mentioned the importance the PPP government attached to neighbours – China, India, Afghanistan and Iran. She said Pakistan showed commitment to basing ties with Afghanistan on sovereign equality.
“We aspire for no role in Afghanistan than to facilitate Afghan people on the course chosen by them for peace and reconciliation,” she said.
Regarding the US, she said the reset in ties was in accordance with the direction set by parliament. She hoped that the European Union would grant GSP Plus status to Pakistan by the start of next year.