WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Friday that the military in Pakistan plays as much of a role as the Pentagon in the United States does.
Addressing an audience of think tanks and policy pundits at the Council on Foreign Relations in a session moderated by former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Khar explained why Admiral Mike Mullen made his now famous remarks about the Haqqani network being a veritable arm of the ISI.
“Intelligence was shared with us that there was a truck full of explosives that was crossing the border into Kabul and we were asked to apprehend it.” Khar questioned how the truck had managed to cross 300km into the Afghan territory.
When discussing the security situation in Pakistan, Khar said, “People like me, who are part of the elite, our lifestyles have changed.” She followed it up by asking the audience to imagine what kind of effect the security situation has on the rest of the population.
On the protests in Pakistan, Khar said that the government was able to manage the situation better because Friday had been declared a holiday, else school children and others would have been at risk.
In her remarks, the foreign minister said that Pakistan does not want any strategic depth in Afghanistan. She added that the closure of joint operations between US forces and Afghan forces and the recent green on blue attacks were matters of grave concern.
“It is not ambition, but anxiety which drives our interest in Afghanistan,” said the foreign minister. She added that she would be the first to admit that Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan have not been easy, but cited examples of how they have built a relationship with the Afghan president.
“To Pakistan, the most important capital is not Washington or London, but Kabul,” said Khar.
Khar also pointed that drone strikes were illegal and counterproductive.
In response to a question about contacts with militant groups, Khar said that even the CIA has contacts with these groups. “Maintaining contact versus having control is a very thin line. If we have any contacts, our message is always be part of the political process.”
When asked about Dr Shakil Afridi’s imprisonment, Khar said that the legal process was underway, and said she was concerned at how he had harmed the cause of polio vaccination for children in Pakistan.
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