ISLAMABAD: Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Sunday said that Pakistan’s current foreign policy was reactive and not active as Pakistan was not taking its own line or direction but was only reacting to the circumstances arising in the region or world at large.
“In 60 years, we have taught our children that our national identity is to hate someone, and we are doing it with those who are physically the nearest. Hostile with India and now hostile with Afghanistan,” she said.
She said that Pakistan could not ‘conquer Kashmir through war’ and progress on the issue could only be made in an environment of mutual trust with India.
“I believe that Pakistan cannot conquer Kashmir through war and if we cannot do that, the option we are left with is dialogue, and dialogue can only proceed with a partner with which we have normal relations and a certain level of mutual trust,” the former minister said in an interview with Geo News programme ‘Jirga’ hosted by Salim Saafi.
She claimed that the PPP government, despite being a coalition government, had tried its best to normalise ties with India through relaxation of visa rules and by normalising trade ties. “The issues between the two countries cannot be resolved in a hostile environment,” she said.
Khar, who remained Pakistan’s foreign minister from 2011 to 2013, maintained that the Kashmir issue could be resolved, “if we continue to talk on the issue, then we will reach somewhere”.
Answering a question regarding the military influence on Pakistan’s foreign policy, the former foreign minister said that it was a diplomat’s job to carry forward the military’s perspective on issues where ‘the military is a relevant stakeholder.’
She said some people believed that the issue could only be resolved, “if there is a BJP government in India and a military government in Pakistan”. She observed that Musharraf gave India adequate relaxation on the Kashmir issue during his tenure.
She said the US tilt towards India was driven by economy, market and because of a wish to contain the rising power of China. “Now let us ask ourselves, is US moving towards India because India is a nuclear state, or because it is a military power, no, it is people power and their democratic traditions, if we want to compete, let’s compete on these grounds,” she said.
She termed Pakistan’s entry into Afghan Jihad a ‘mistake’ and maintained that Pakistan’s dependence on US was more in “our minds than on the ground”. She termed it Zia’s mistake for helping the US in the 80s, and added Musharraf had no option when it came to helping the US in 2001.
Criticising the approach and the performance of ministry of foreign affairs, she asked if the foreign office had turned into a political office. “The foreign office is busy nowadays in apprising the nation about some country’s leader sending flowers to the prime minister or inquiring after his health,” said Khar. Summing up her answer, she maintained that the basic objective of Pakistan’s foreign policy should be to serve the people of the country and not the pursuit of power.