Pakistan cannot "conquer Kashmir through war" and the issue can only be handled in an environment of mutual trust with India, former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said during an interview with Geo News recently.
The interview, which made headlines because of many issues that Khar spoke on, was aired on 26 June.
"Pakistan's foreign policy is reactive and not proactive."
"We have taught our children that our national identity is to hate others and it is especially true of our (physically) close neighbours (read India and Afghanistan)."
That, India is an emerging economic and a regional power is a fact. We cannot be in denial about that. On an international level, Pakistan and India can be on the same level for sure, but you cannot contest that India is bigger (size-wise) and that difference will always remain."
Hina Rabbani Khar, who held the foreign ministry office from 2011 to 2013, said children in Pakistan have been taught for 60 years that "our national identity is to hate someone" which in turn, has led to the current hostile relationship with India and Afghanistan. Citing former Pakistan People's Party government's efforts at mending ties with India, Khar emphasised that the then government had tried to better relationship by relaxing visa rules and normalising trade ties.
In the 35-minute interview, Khar said things that could resonate with the population of India, Pakistan and the rest of the world. But unfortunately, Pakistan's youngest and first woman foreign minister's statement probably made a good headline but that's all it was.
Pakistan has faced criticism due its flawed foreign policy and the civilian government of the country also faced criticism because of its lack of teeth when it came to taking a stand on sensitive issues related to its close neighbours. Even when 38-year-old Khar was the foreign minister and she auspiciously broke ice with her elderly Indian counterpart SM Krishna, she was more in news because of what she wore and what bag she carried, rather than the new path she chartered — something unimaginable in 2011 — merely three years after the brazen Mumbai attacks. The real question that Khar should have instead asked in the interview with the Geo News should have been: Does any foreign minister have any authority in Pakistan?
When asked about Pakistan military's influence on Pakistan's foreign policy, Khar said that it is a diplomat's job to carry forward the military's perspective on issues where the military is a relevant stake holder. Interestingly, in 2011 during her visit to India Khar, who is talking about a "pro-active" foreign policy in Pakistan, during her visit to India in 2011 had said, "We have many stakeholders, and all their views are taken into consideration."
Khar, in this interview, stated that a few believe that the issue can only be resolved "if there is a BJP government in India and a military government in Pakistan". She said that it is a fact that the Pervez Musharraf gave India adequate relaxation on the Kashmir issue during his tenure.
When asked about the recent downturn in Pakistan-US ties and the US' tilt towards India, Khar noted that the tilt towards India is driven by economy, market and because of a wish to contain the rising power of China. "Now let us ask ourselves, is US moving towards India because India is a nuclear state, or because it is a military power? No, it is people power and their democratic traditions, if we want to compete, lets compete on these grounds," said Khar.
Adding that Musharraf had no option in 2001 when it came to helping the US, Khar said it was Zia ul Haq's mistake for helping the US in the 1980s.
Even though, Khar in the last leg of the interview, criticises the current foreign ministry office and said it has turned into a political office: "The foreign office is busy nowadays in apprising the nation about some country's leader sending flowers to the prime minister or inquiring about his health."
Honestly Miss Khar, when was your foreign ministry office an independent-thinking body that was allowed to take stands?
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Updated Date: Jun 28, 2016 15:40:27 IST