NEW YORK: While some minced words and others talked tough in Washington and Islamabad, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said it in New York as it needed to be said.
“Given the volatility of the situation [in Afghanistan], it is perhaps understandable that there is a high level of anxiety and emotions. But we must not lose sight of the goals,” a confident Khar told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
Khar’s speech seemed tailor-made for the current tensions between Pakistan and the US. “We must not rush to judgements or question each other’s intentions. Pakistan is also firmly committed to promoting stability and peace in Afghanistan,” she said.
Pakistan respects and supports the efforts of the Afghan government under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai for reconciliation and peace, she added.
“A cooperative endeavour, in full solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, is the only sure way of ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” Khar said.
Reiterating that Pakistan has the will to fight terrorism, she said that notable success against al Qaeda and its affiliates has been registered in recent years. “It is well known that following the Tora Bora bombing and consequent dispersal of al Qaeda, it was Pakistan’s intelligence and security agencies that interdicted a large number of al Qaeda operatives. Very recently, Yousuf Al Mauritani, the chief operative of al Qaeda, was arrested in a joint ISI and CIA operation,” she said.
“Eliminating terrorism is in our national interest,” Khar said, adding that Pakistan’s commitment to eliminating terror and militancy is irrevocable.
Khar also said that Pakistan intends to make its engagement with India fruitful.
“I am happy to note that both Pakistan and India are now engaged in a substantive dialogue process; a dialogue process that we in Pakistan hope will be uninterrupted and uninterruptable,” she said. “We look forward to resolving all outstanding issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.”
Security Council seat
“At this session of the General Assembly, Pakistan is seeking election to a seat on the Security Council,” Khar announced.
In a bid to stress Pakistan’s commitment to the UN, Khar said that the country attaches high importance to UN peacekeeping functions and is a major troop contributor to the UN peacekeeping force. “Pakistan has consistently been among the top UN peacekeeping contributors for many years. We have over 10,000 troops in the UN Blue Helmets.”
She also expressed Pakistan’s support for Palestine’s membership request to the United Nations. “Pakistan has always upheld the realisation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to an independent homeland. President Mahmoud Abbas made an historic and memorable case for his people. We support the quest of the State of Palestine for membership in the United Nations,” Khar said.
Earlier, Khar hosted a reception for her counterparts from across the world, also attended by Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna along with his country’s UN ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri. Last year, Pakistan voted for India when it won a non-permanent seat.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2011.