Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has described Pakistani delegation’s participation in the recently-concluded Nato summit in Chicago as successful.
“When there is debate about Afghanistan taking place, should Pakistan, a responsible regional player, an important neighbour and a country that has huge stakes in peace and stability in Afghanistan, not participate?” she told The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview.
She claimed that Pakistan had the highest stakes amongst 60 countries participating in the summit.
“The spill-over effect of instability in Afghanistan is instantaneous in Pakistan and if there is stability in Afghanistan, the effect of that too in Pakistan is likely to be instantaneous. I will completely disagree with anyone who says that Pakistan should have not participated in such a forum.”
“We need to engage with the world on what the challenges are and how we can pursue mutual interests with tools and frameworks acceptable to both parties. For that, you need extensive engagement with the rest of the world, and I think Chicago provided an excellent opportunity for that,” Khar said.
“This is the question for Pakistan – what message do we want to give the world? Are we enablers, a facilitator, a responsible country on the road that leads to Afghan stability, or are we a blocker, a disabler to the international efforts towards peace and stability,” she said.
In response to a question, Khar said that no hostile attacks were made on Pakistan during speeches and remarks at the Nato summit. Khar highlighted that during President Karzai’s interview on CNN, he said that they were working in the ‘friendliest of environments’. She added that Prime Minister Gilani will also visit Kabul soon.
On drones, Khar said that Pakistan’s position was clear – ‘they are unlawful, illegal and counterproductive’.
“What we need to emphasise is how they are counterproductive. Drones are a means to an end, they are there to achieve a certain objective, so if you can achieve those objectives with different tools, which are acceptable to both parties, isn’t that a better option? There is a lot of work that we have done together, and I am fairly optimistic that we can find a way where drones are not required in Pakistan.”
Khar said Pakistan had good dialogue with every major player in the US administration that they met on the sidelines of the summit, including a good meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, over the importance Pakistan’s parliamentary review and its recommendations.
Asked if they had anything to announce for the future, Khar said it was a continued engagement process, and they were in touch on various levels. She added that Pakistan was given the honour of being invited at the conference, and was the only neighbour of Afghanistan that had been invited.
“I think we should take things positively, and not go into conspiracy theory mode that everything is happening against Pakistan,” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2012.
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