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Foreign Minister Address at the Royal Institute of International Affairs London

Islamabad: Foreign Minister Ms Hina Rabbani Khar said that Pakistan cannot and does not want to change its neighbours rather Pakistan is proud of its neighbourhood. The future of Pakistan and other countries of the region she added is interlinked and we have to co-exist. The people of the region she said cannot be kept deprived of prosperity and development.

The Foreign Minister was addressing a gathering at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House here this afternoon. The topic of the Minister’s speech was “Pakistan in a changing regional and global environment” on which she spoke for around half an hour followed by question/answer session. The Foreign Minister said that Pakistan is pursuing a policy of transformational change in its relations with all the neighbours and would continue with the same till the vision of normalised region is fulfilled.

Peace and stability in Afghanistan, the Foreign Minister said is essential for peace and stability in Pakistan and the entire region. Pakistan she added supports Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliatory efforts in Afghanistan. However Pakistan does not oppose any other effort to bring about peace and stability in that country. Pakistan she mentioned wants to see a sovereign and secure Afghanistan and desire for a strategic depth in the hearts of the people of Afghanistan.

The Foreign Minister said that besides giving free transit trade facility and looking after around 3 million Afghan refugees Pakistan has contributed over $300 million to develop the infrastructure and other civic amenities in Afghanistan. Pakistan she added has done all this and would continue to do more considering it as our responsibility as a neighbour and a brotherly country. While talking about Pakistan’s role for international peace and security the Foreign Minister said that Pakistan is the second largest contributor to UN peace keeping forces deployed around the world.

As a frontline state against terrorism she mentioned that Pakistan has suffered a lot on account of its partnership both in human and economic terms. This aspect has yet not been recognised by the international community and instead a negative narrative has been built up.

The extremist and militant elements in the region and some in Pakistan she stated is the hangover of the war against the Soviet Union waged by the west. Pakistan she added would never the less continue with its contribution because of our commitment to peace and stability in the region and the world. While deliberating upon the Foreign Policy of Pakistan the Foreign Minister said that our Foreign Policy is in sync with the National Interests and reflective of the will of our people.

Pakistan she added needs peace, security and stability for which it has been pursuing the course of dialogue and negotiations. It is only through talks, dialogue and negotiations she said that we can resolve issues of international interest.

Talking about the internal situation in Pakistan the Minister said that Democracy has taken roots and it is an irreversible process. Pakistan like other developed countries of the world wants to see prosperity for its people and would adopt all possible routes leading towards peace, progress and development.

In reply to a question on Pakistan-India relations the Minister said the relations are heading towards normalisation. The confrontation between the two countries she said has caused under-development in both the countries as well as the entire region. Pakistan she said sincerely desire for uninterrupted dialogue with India to resolve all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir in the larger interest of the people of the region.

In response to another question she mentioned that Pakistan is looking for trade opportunities with the world and would prefer fewer earnings through trade than aid. She appreciated the EU special package for preferential access to Pakistani goods in European markets which she added has received WTO waiver and would hopefully be approved by the European Union.

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