As Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prepares for his visit to the United States, his top foreign policy aide has called upon the administration of President Barack Obama not to take steps that might aggravate the strategic imbalance in the South Asian region.
Speaking in BBC Urdu show ‘Sairbeen’, Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs, said Pakistan had no issues whatsoever with Washington’s diplomatic relationship with New Delhi.
Read: Don’t expect a deal next week: White House
“However, at a time when Pakistan’s relations with India are tense, it [the United States] should at least try not to increase the strategic and traditional imbalance [of power] to the extent that it might pose a threat to the integrity of the whole [South Asian] region,” he added.
Asked about a Washington role in thawing the frosty relationship between Pakistan and India, Aziz said not only the United States but all countries of the world wanted the two countries to resolve their issues through talks. “But the important thing is that the strategic imbalance in the region does not increase,” he added.
About the upcoming visit of Premier Nawaz, Aziz said Islamabad and Washington would discuss key bilateral and international issues, including Pakistan’s relationship with India, trade and investment opportunities as well as Afghan peace process.
Read: PM revises agenda amid delayed US drawdown
With regard to statement of an unmanned American official who has precluded a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan and said the two countries would instead hold talks on the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, Aziz said talks on nuclear security had been ongoing for some time and that the international community was satisfied with the steps taken by Islamabad to secure its atomic weapons.
“Our first priority is our national interest and our security, and we will not make any compromise on them,” Aziz said. “As far as Pakistan’s inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group is concerned, work is also under way [for this purpose],” he added. Aziz hoped both Pakistan and India would be made part of the group at the same time.
Talking with reference to President Obama’s announcement to slow the US drawdown from Afghanistan, Aziz said Pakistan would welcome all steps taken for stability in Afghanistan.
Read: Pakistan-US ties may sour again following Kunduz allegations
Aziz said President Obama has hinted that his country was ready to initiate talks with insurgents in Afghanistan. “However, the decision will have to be taken by the Afghan government. Pakistan will be ready to mediate, if Kabul desired Islamabad’s inclusion [in the process],” he said.
Aziz rejected speculation that the allegations regarding presence of Pakistan’s intelligence officials in the northern Afghan city Kunduz could affect talks in Washington. Pakistan has already dismissed the allegation, he added. “And the entire world knows Islamabad is making sincere efforts for restoration of peace in Afghanistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2015.
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