On foreign front: ‘PML-N will revisit foreign policy’

Published: May 13, 2013

File photo of Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which is all set to form the next government in the centre, will revisit the foreign policy – including all ‘covert and overt’ agreements with the United States, a close aide of Nawaz Sharif told The Express Tribune.

The influential party member, who advises Nawaz on foreign policy, said that the focus of PML-N’s foreign policy would be on safeguarding the ‘supreme national interest.’ “It may sound clichéd but we mean it,” he said, requesting anonymity.

Asked whether the PML-N government would renegotiate the current terms of engagement, including a deal with the US to facilitate the troop pullout from Afghanistan, he said, “We will look into all such arrangements to find out whether they conform to the country’s national interest.”

However, he added that the PML-N did not seek a ‘divorce’ with the US.  “Our foreign policy will make sure that it protects Pakistan’s interest without damaging its relations with other countries, including the US,” he added and recalled that Nawaz had enjoyed a good ‘rapport’ with the US administration in 1998, even after Pakistan conducted the nuclear tests.

The aide also said that the PML-N government would persuade the US administration to halt drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions. “We consider such attacks a violation of our territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal before the elections, Nawaz said he was confident he would find an agreement with the US on controversial issues, such as drone strikes in the tribal belt. Experts believe the US troop pullout from Afghanistan in 2014 will test Nawaz’s negotiating skills.

“How Pakistan deals with that situation will be a significant challenge which Nawaz has to confront,” said political analyst Zafarullah Khan.

Nawaz, who is considered close to Saudi Arabia, also faces a big test in ensuring a balance in Islamabad’s relations with Tehran.  The Saudis are said to be against Pakistan’s plans to import natural gas from Iran. But the former ruling party dismissed the pressure and went ahead with the agreement just days before the government’s tenure expired.

Nawaz’s aide said that although the would-be premier recognises the fact that Pakistan must look at all means to meet its energy demands, he would review the Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline project.

“We will have to see whether the initiative was genuine or just a political gimmick by the Pakistan Peoples Party,” he argued, adding that the PML-N administration would analyse whether the IP project was economically viable and ‘whether it will damage our relations with other countries’.

On relations with India, the aide pointed out that Nawaz would pick up where he left off in 1998, when then Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Lahore.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Hammad
    May 13, 2013 - 10:12AM

    Cheaters won’t survive long. This is another circus ready to take people for a ride.

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  • k. Salim Jahangir
    May 13, 2013 - 10:13AM

    One has not forgotten the slogans of rallies in 1999 chanting ,”Nawaz hattao mulk bachao”. one also hopes that he has learnt a lesson from the past & will not repeat contumacious attitude in dealing with matters of sensitive nature.

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  • Ahad
    May 13, 2013 - 10:14AM

    First part of US-KSA-PMLN deal was to backout from IP gas pipeline and next he will get Gwadar back from China and have really good relationship with India.

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  • KM
    May 13, 2013 - 10:49AM

    more corruption more slavery nothing will change

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  • Be practical
    May 13, 2013 - 11:04AM

    Save us Allah from this agony. We know we are sinners but please give us repentence in this world. I am almost weeping as I write. Nothing would change with leadership. Nation please rise up before they sell us!

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  • May 13, 2013 - 11:08AM

    The state coffers are empty. We will get nowhere negotiating with the US now. If anything we are at their mercy.

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  • Anand
    May 13, 2013 - 11:09AM

    the litmus test for mr nawaz sharif will be how he deals with mr pervez musharraf. that will decide how far the army will let him go independently.

    as for taking up where mr vajpayee left it, it was long, long ago and a hundred things have changed. foreign policy is generally the prerogative of the army in pakistan. thsi is not going to change drastically.

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  • tanveer
    May 13, 2013 - 11:12AM

    IP project will go to grave.

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  • Sonya
    May 13, 2013 - 11:59AM

    This is why we kept on saying why this country needs education. Pakistanis will experience a change from bad to worse in the next few years. The educated lot will suffer more than the uneducated. As we treat 2013-election as a semi-final, we will fight back with more power and will eradicate such stooge businessman from the politics.

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  • Khan
    May 13, 2013 - 12:01PM

    The IP project should be scrapped if it was a facade in the first place. The timing of initiating the IP project significantly suggests that its was bogus and just an election stunt by the previous govt.

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  • Ali
    May 13, 2013 - 1:19PM

    And all his policies would be in favour of US, India, KSA and NOT pakistan. It’s so obvious why Indians are dying to meet sharif.

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  • Aviator
    May 13, 2013 - 1:47PM

    So NS has already proved he is spineless, by giving into pressure from Saudi Arabia and the USA, by considering backing out of the IP pipeline deal

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  • Mj
    May 13, 2013 - 2:09PM

    I hope Nawaz Sharif will not take dictates from Saudi Arabia on how to run the state, and will hopefully work to reduce their undue influence in the local affairs of the county.

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  • Khair Khaw
    May 13, 2013 - 3:08PM

    NS should form an advisory body to formulate a set of recommendations for foreign policy. He should include ambassadors that served in India and the US, and include experts, such as, Shirin Mazari.

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  • Khair Khaw
    May 13, 2013 - 3:10PM

    @Aviator:
    Not necessarily. Feasibility of that project is questionable.

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  • abc
    May 13, 2013 - 3:11PM

    Can NS rein in the non-state actors flourishing in Pakistan ?

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  • Enlightened
    May 13, 2013 - 3:14PM

    Nawaz Sharif has recognised that the militancy and law and order issues that trouble Pakistan has outsized influence of the military as their root cause. Inorder to succeed on the foreign front, the civilian govt has to follow an independent foreign policy without the interference of its major establishment and that would strengthen the civil institution. Dependence on United States and even China can be cut if Pakistan developes modus vivendi with India in terms of trade, energy and railways sectors.

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  • Khair Khaw
    May 13, 2013 - 3:24PM

    NS should form an advisory body to formulate a set of recommendations for foreign policy. He should include ambassadors that served in India and the US as relations with these countries are most important for good or for bad, and include experts, such as, well-versed in Strategic Studies and International Relations.

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  • Luciferous
    May 13, 2013 - 6:30PM

    High time to do so and bring some sanity to the situation.
    Pakistan is the only country in the world who either has openly hostile or at best unfriendly relations with all her neighbours.
    Time for change!

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  • Raj - USA
    May 13, 2013 - 7:05PM

    IP project never had any chance of success. TAPI has even less chance of success. Importantly pushing for the IP project will make sure that Baluchistan breaks away. Baluch will feel cheated even more as Pakistan will be paying Iran more than ten times the rate it has been paying fro the Sui gas and this Iran gas shall be passing through Baluchistan. IP pipeline would have materialized had it been done 12 years ago when it included India. Iran is now asking for more than two times the price that it had agreed at than time ($6.50 / mmbtu then vs. $13.00 / mmbtu now). Musharraf scuttled it. Pakistan refused to guarantee security of the pipeline and was also demanding high transit fee. If at all the situation in Baluchistan has worsened now. If Pakistan could not guarantee security of the pipeline then, how can it ensure that the pipeline is safe and secure now? Giving Gwadar to China will also alienate Baluch. If NS can somehow build consensus of KBD and build this dam, it would be his biggest achievement. He should be careful not to rush into this and make any announcements, but just build consensus silently with other political parties.

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  • irfan
    May 13, 2013 - 7:30PM

    Punjab has most of the industries in Pakistan. if the government halts the IP then the Punjab is the one which will suffer the most. They should trust their elected leader and suffer it……The influential of Saudia, I am looking more funding for Sectarianism…. This time Iran will try to counter to protect Shia community…

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  • k. Salim Jahangir
    May 13, 2013 - 9:34PM

    He is so gullible & to the extent that without checking, going into details or having an inquiry conducted, would believe what he was advised by his friends like one business man in Washington DC whom he used to oblige frequently & there are many such examples.He took action against many innocent people during his last stint as PM which deprived them of their livelihood.If he behaves in the same fashion now like Mughal Kings,he will face the same fate he did last time.

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  • Tim
    May 14, 2013 - 11:31AM

    We need another Musharraf.

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  • Khair Khaw
    May 14, 2013 - 6:52PM

    @Tim:
    To bring further ruination to this country?

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