South Asian politics: Friendship not supremacy in region, says PM

Published: August 15, 2011
Vows strengthened ties with all ‘friends’, China in particular.  PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

Vows strengthened ties with all ‘friends’, China in particular. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

Vows strengthened ties with all ‘friends’, China in particular.  PHOTO: AFP/ FILE Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani delivers a speech at the flag hoisting ceremony in Islamabad on August 14, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

In what seems to be a strong and apparent warning to western powers, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Sunday said that Pakistan will not allow any regional country to assert its hegemony over others but vowed to seek greater cooperation with key players, including China.

“We are always ready to extend our cooperation to friends but are not ready to accept anyone’s supremacy,” he said addressing a ceremony held in connection with the Independence Day celebrations. He did not clarify though if he was referring to Washington’s attempts to influence Islamabad directly or its support for India. Last month US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, during her visit to India remarked that the US wants to see India lead the South Asian region which sparked a hostile reaction from this side of the border.

The prime minister however said that relations with the US are extremely important for Pakistan but asserted that Islamabad would never compromise its integrity for anything.

Although it is not clear what motivated the prime minister to reiterate his stance on US’ support for India, his statement comes a day after a former US presidential candidate and senior Republican Senator John McCain was in Pakistan to hold talks with the country’s political and military leadership.

Also over the weekend an American citizen was kidnapped from Lahore, an incident which is likely to add more fuel to troubled Pak-US relations strained by a series of episodes in recent months.

“We want that Pakistan’s foreign relations are instrumental in national integrity and honour,” the prime minister said, adding, “We respect the integrity and sovereignty of other countries and expect that they also respect Pakistan’s.”

In an apparent balancing act, the premier sought peaceful co-existence with India as well.

“India is our important neighbour. We want that both countries find a negotiated resolution of their pending issues so that the people of Pakistan and India can get rid of poverty, ignorance and backwardness,” he said.

Prime Minister Gilani was quick to assert Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir. “No one can deny that Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan. The international community has accepted the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. We will continue to provide political, diplomatic and moral support to our brothers,” he said.

Look east, regionalism

As relations with the US deteriorate, the Pakistani leadership — both political and military — has been warming up for China, an obvious alternative. The prime minister too did not miss the opportunity to praise Sino-Pak relations.

“Our historic relations with China are of huge importance and our friendship is an important pillar of our foreign policy. The Pakistan-China friendship is higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the oceans in real terms,” he said.

That is not all, the prime minister also talked about Islamabad’s “brotherhood” with Saudi Arabia, Turkey’s continued support for the people of Pakistan and the historic and geographical bond with Iran as hallmarks of the country’s foreign policy.

“We desire restoration of peace in Afghanistan. We want to see it as a prosperous, sovereign and independent country,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (46)

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Aug 14, 2011 - 2:21PM

    Sir, you are 100% right. Only democracy can bring change. All institutions must and should strengthen democracy.Recommend

  • Jehanzeb Khan
    Aug 14, 2011 - 2:28PM

    A failed system in a failed country will never lead to success Pir Sahib…….


  • Aug 14, 2011 - 2:42PM

    Elsewhere I read only independence celebration by
    the armed forces at the Kakul Pakistani Military
    Academy,PMA and felt rather strange Pakistan´s
    democracy and the armed forces go on separate
    roads.Special features in Al-Quaid daily appeared
    to miss the context of reality. Of the 35 participants
    only Asma Jehangir and a few others noted the
    current realities.Ms.Madiha Gohar was bold enough
    to blame ” Shaheed ” Z.A.Bhutto for placing the
    foundation of Sharia Pakistan in his 1973
    Constitution although popular blame was placed
    on Zia ul-Haq! Are a couple of sane voices
    enough to save Pakistan?
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring,TTTMM
    India — kulamarva Balakrishna


  • Tariq
    Aug 14, 2011 - 3:21PM

    Pakistan’s future lies in democracy, but is not safe in the hands of scheming corrupt politicians who would not spare even the Hajjis or soldiers of fortune like Ayub Khan, Zia and Musharraf. What we need is to follow the example of clean honest politics that was practiced by the father of our nation, Quaid e Azam Mohd Ali Jinnah, a man of integrity and principles. Quaid abided by a high moral code of ethics when it came to dealing with public money.


  • pinky
    Aug 14, 2011 - 3:48PM

    65th or 64th independence day??? some channels are saying 64th, some are celebrating 65th..seriously,man, we can’t even count?Recommend

  • H.A. Khan
    Aug 14, 2011 - 4:15PM

    Democracy,good governance, transparent decision making, accountability are the key.


  • Saad Durrani
    Aug 14, 2011 - 4:25PM

    We completed the 64th year and we have started the 65th. Both are right. It is like “half full, half empty.”


  • Aug 14, 2011 - 4:29PM

    The one word we need to ban in Pakistan is ‘democracy.’

    I don’t know if future lies in empty words but I am sure future lies with people who need the government to actually work.


  • rameed
    Aug 14, 2011 - 4:48PM

    @Pinky. I agree with you. We can’t even get our basic numbers right. How can we get our budget and income figures correct, unless we fudge them? Computing the years of our “independence” is simple math. Even a grade schooler will know that it’s the 64th, not the 65th. You don’t start counting in 1947, but in 1947 to reckon the first year of Pakistan. Time to increase funding for education.Recommend

  • rameed
    Aug 14, 2011 - 5:02PM

    I stand corrected. We shouldn’t start counting in 1946, but in 1947. Again, do the math.


  • Usman
    Aug 14, 2011 - 5:06PM

    I think those who are saying 64, talk about the anniversary, and the others about 65th Independence day


  • Khurram
    Aug 14, 2011 - 6:24PM

    Can someone please explan to me why we celebrate 14th of August as our Independence Day where as legally speaking The Indedepence Of India Act passed by the British Parliament to create Two Dominions (India and Pakistan) did come into effect only on the 15th Of August 1947. Then how could have we achieved our Independence a day earlier? Are we not being dishonest to our ownselves?


  • sunny
    Aug 14, 2011 - 6:39PM

    With 70% illiteracy how could democracy be successful??? we have been given
    a system of governance 1500 years ago. follow this system inshallah Pakistan will
    emerge as a prosperous and peaceful country in world.


  • Zain Kamran
    Aug 14, 2011 - 8:35PM

    NO, Pakistan’s future lies in CORRUPTION.


  • spindle
    Aug 14, 2011 - 9:29PM

    what pakistan needs is for the youth to revolt. i’m really surprised as to why that hasn’t happened yet. the conditions are tough in pakistan. can it get worse? well sure. it can get so worse in fact that the opportunity for a revolt would be lost by some sort of foreign occupation preventing it which is extremely scary. so i’m really curious as to what the catalyst will be in order to spark a nation wide revolution of sorts to bring about change that the people want instead of pak’s politicians outlining the change for them. the problem isn’t illiteracy in the pakistani people. the problem is that the politicians lack their usage of common sense. perhaps they know that the future of pakistan is bleak so their efforts are to milk whatever they can get out of their land (and the aid that comes in) and to invest it offshore.

    I believe corruption plays a big role indeed, but to a degree, selfishness among the elites also contributes to the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. not only that, the kind of selfishness of not helping people pave their own path of success also exists among the middle class. coming back to corruption, it’s a disease which can’t be rooted out in Pakistan. suppose you manage to hang every politician and start from a clean slate. Well, the country will still need politicians and leaders and in an environment like Pakistan, the greed and corruption will eventually find it’s way back to them. the cycle will repeat itself.

    in modern day recent revolutions, social media’s played a big part. the fact that there’s an abundant amount of cellphone devices floating around in the hands of the youth over there is unmistakable. there is internet in pakistan although i’m not sure of it’s accessibility to the youth and how much exposure they get to it but they definitely have the means to mobilize and come together to make their voice one in having their opinions heard. lets just hope it happens soon.


  • Mohan Ram
    Aug 14, 2011 - 9:44PM

    Good wishes to the people of Pakistan. May this new year bring peace and prosperity to your people and peace with the surrounding countries


    Aug 14, 2011 - 10:09PM

    Well, an interesting and correct observation but how can Pakistan celebrate its Independence day on the same day as India who is its sworn enemy. As such there are many distortions in your history and one of which states that Pakistan existed since 13th century since your historians were probably told not to identify with anything which is remotely related to un-divided Indian civilisation. So enjoy or be frustrated on your distorted history since many of your leading scholars and historians failed to convince your successive govts on this major issue.


  • Karachi Girl
    Aug 14, 2011 - 10:55PM

    Please pass a word to “Express News” that it was the 65th independence day and not the 64th like they kept saying whole day. At this level one would expect them to have some professionalism!


  • Bashir
    Aug 14, 2011 - 11:25PM

    Pakistan is the most violent 64 year old alive today. Happy birthday though. Try not to poke your neighbor in the eye with a candle please.


  • Tariq
    Aug 15, 2011 - 12:45AM

    @ Pinky —Pakistan is 64 years in age, but it is the 65th date of our independence, the first being in 1947.


  • Mastishhk
    Aug 15, 2011 - 1:03AM

    @ Khurram..We celeberate it one day prior to be one up on India :))


  • Aug 15, 2011 - 1:19AM

    @sunny agreed


  • hx
    Aug 15, 2011 - 2:03AM

    on the midnight of 15th August 1947, this independence law came in effect in the capital, dehli..
    according to international time, pakistan’s time was half hour behind the time in india..
    so when this law was implemented the time in pakistan was 23:30pm 14th August where as time in india was 00:00am 15th August..
    that is why we celebrate it on 14th

    we are not being dishonest to ourselves..there is a logic behind everything =) jst think!


  • Khurram
    Aug 15, 2011 - 3:45AM

    @Mastishhk: Thank you, I see a lot logic in your answer.
    @hx: We are talking about a fixed date for the said Independence Act to come into full effect not a fixed hour with your logic Pakistan should have come into being half an hour behind India, more over back then a single standard time was observed through out India or the Sub Continent as we prefer to call prepartition India. This proves my point that we are an irrational people who simply twist lies and shy away from facts to just feel good about ourselves and that is the reason we are in a deep mess which is our own making.


  • Yasser
    Aug 15, 2011 - 5:15AM

    It would have been like this.

    Independence Day: Pakistan’s failure lies in current democracy, says PM


  • Aug 15, 2011 - 6:16AM

    @pinky: Pinky! How enormously right you are. Our channels cant count. Salams to you.


  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Aug 15, 2011 - 6:22AM

    For almost last 4 years the PM has lied through his teeth, made money and now he is telling us about DEMOCRACY??????What a JOKE!!!!!

    The above mentioned comments were not good enough for you to print anyway they are on FACE BOOK for everyone to see, read and comment


  • Aug 15, 2011 - 6:24AM

    Mr. Gillani, PM Sir! You talk of Democracy? Hahh! What a farce you have made of Democracy in Pakistan.
    In our country the main ingredient of Democracy is EHTISAB; in English it is called ACCOUNTABILITY, which you and your government has never thought of. You may have heard it but you have never, ever given another thought about it. If there was ‘ehtisab’ there would be democracy and poor people in Pakistan would be heaving a sigh of relief. Salams to our beautiful country.


  • KolachiMom
    Aug 15, 2011 - 8:01AM

    The streets erupted in gunfire at midnight, on 14th August. While we have hundreds losing their lives to the same thing, the least people could have done was abstain from such a dangerous, and disrespectful display of “celebrating” – But, no… We like to show off our “might” What “freedom” those on the streets were celebrating, still remains a mystery to many.


  • Twinky
    Aug 15, 2011 - 12:11PM

    Duas and prayers for Pakistan,s well being and prosperity. God Bless Pakistan Always!


  • Patriotic
    Aug 15, 2011 - 12:56PM

    Shame on us that we don’t t know exact when we got independence. Truly, its ridiculous. The channels are confusing public. Its 64th Independence Day, not 65th. The channel which run the news as 65th Independence Day showed irresponsible behavior. Please first get clear and than tell people whether it was 64th or 65th.


  • Hedgefunder
    Aug 15, 2011 - 1:48PM

    Shows the level of knowledge within the community, in regards to their Nation’s history!
    If the Media and locals can not figure out, how many years since Independance than there is serious problem !!!


  • from india
    Aug 15, 2011 - 1:54PM

    we are not fully independent …the mullahs are taking away the independence of pakistanis and the corrupt congress party tries to snatch our independence every five years …having said that i in no way supporting bjp to be an alternative !!


  • doctor asad
    Aug 15, 2011 - 2:05PM

    @Aftab Kenneth Wilson: What Democracy, may I ask you Sir? The one that gives a seat in Parliament to Col. Abid Hussain beacuse he is a feudal and can get gov. land for 1 rupee per acre for 99 years? When, dies, his daughter abida hussain becomes that member and now as she is aging, her daughter Shugra has become senator. Isnt it absurd ? Are the islamists or poor Madrasa students real problem of this country? No Sir, its this highly educated liberal class, who wears jeans and Tee shirts if PPP is in power and starts doing Milad Majlis if Zia is on the throne which has led to the mess we are in.Recommend

  • Aug 15, 2011 - 3:11PM

    @Zain Kamran:
    In corruption we Indians take the cake! Maybe the whole bakery!Soon India will become a pauper nation !


  • Aug 15, 2011 - 3:13PM

    What difference does it make?


  • G. Din
    Aug 15, 2011 - 4:01PM

    “according to international time, pakistan’s time was half hour behind the time in india..”
    If Pakistan itself was not in existence, there was no such time as Pakistan Standard Time!!!!


  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Aug 15, 2011 - 7:58PM

    @doctor asad: The grievances which you mentioned are correct but democracy must complete its tenure and no one should be allowed to derail the system whether through judiciary or jack boots or even media trial. We only need fair and free elections. Presently there is trust deficit between all political and religious parties which will lead us to no where other than another dooms day. I personally feel that this situation is being deliberately created so as to pave the way for “Technocratic Set-Up” which these so called politicians cum business persons need to understand if they really love Pakistan and not their pockets.


  • Dr,A.K.Tewari
    Aug 15, 2011 - 9:09PM

    Jouhar ! Well . Superb ,


  • Dr,A.K.Tewari
    Aug 15, 2011 - 9:19PM

    @G. Din: ! Let the time roll . Today Pakistan is at the edge of transformation ,


  • hx
    Aug 16, 2011 - 12:05AM

    @g.din lakeer ke fakeer
    i never mentioned PAKISTAN STANDARD TIME..
    duuh international time existed even before independence..
    whether a nation exists or not..there is a time given on world maps regarding time difference from case u ever paid attention in geography class..
    a separate time along with everything was decided well before 1947..
    @khurram bro use ur mind…why should we celebrate independence half hour later on on 15th..? if the date was same then we would say that we got independence half hour late..n tell me that why doesnt the whole world celebrate new year at the same moment?bcs when USA will celebrate on 1st jan, date in new zealand would already be 2nd jan.. so now it means that the whole world has irrational people who simply twist lies and shy away from facts to just feel good as u said?Recommend

  • Cautious
    Aug 16, 2011 - 12:26AM

    Doesn’t really matter what the PM says – does it? Pakistan has lost the race with India – showed the word its duplicitous nature with the discovery of OBL – left pretty much isolated in the World hoping that it’s relations with China will somehow keep it afloat.
    The USA has asked India to lead because no one else in this part of the World has shown the ability or desire to lead. Lead doesn’t mean dominate — it means set and example and do things that help stabilize and improve. The fact that Pakistan can’t or won’t do it doesn’t mean that other shouldn’t.


    Aug 16, 2011 - 11:08AM

    It is a historic fact that both India and Pakistan achieved Independence on the same day ie 15 August 1947. However, Pakistan due to some un-explainable reasons decided to celebrate a day earlier. Your arguments regarding international timings is not valid since it was same on 15 Aug 47 for both countries and decision to revise its time by Pakistan was taken much later and moreover the date on which the Independence was granted is the sole consideration for its celebration.

    Notwithstanding above, many Pakistani eminent scholars, journalists and bloggers continue to write about major distortions and anamolies in its history’s curriculam of schools and colleges, which needs immediate revision to avoid frustration among its youth.


  • Dr,A.K.Tewari
    Aug 16, 2011 - 4:29PM

    Intellectuals of pakistan have done more harm to the Pakistan than the terrorists They have produced a genration knowing the distorted history of the country not acceptable to the rest of the world what to say to the people of India ,


  • Hedgefunder
    Aug 16, 2011 - 10:44PM

    You hit it on the nail !! As Al pacino said in the movie, Godfather ” Its in the Interest of the Rich to Keep the Poor without it ” !!
    This is the tale of Pakistan today and has been since Independance, except for period when ZAB tried out his socialist ideas by Natinalisation of Industries which were actually flourishing at the time !!!
    Love to know, what has happened to those Industries today !!!


  • Dr,A.K.Tewari
    Aug 18, 2011 - 6:45AM

    Pakistan has detached from its root and now it is floating in the air .Pakistan has detached from its root and now it is floating in the air .


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