Islamabad, December 21, 2015 (PPI-OT): I am grateful to the Honourable Senators for these motions to discuss the Foreign Policy of Pakistan since this gives me a chance to present the performance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Parliament for information and further guidance.
Let me by way of introduction point out that unlike economic performance, which can be quantified in terms of growth rate; exports and inflation; or the education sector in which performance can be judged in terms of many quantifiable indicators, the assessment in the field of foreign policy is more qualitative. Priorities in the field of Foreign Office are determined on the basis of certain broad objectives, which flow directly from global developments and ground realities within the country.
In June 2013, the new government set out the following priorities in the domain of Foreign Policy:
First priority to Pakistan’s own security based on a policy of non-interference.
Peaceful neighbourhood, so that the Government could focus on economic revival and address energy deficits.
Trade and investment, not aid.
Focus on connectivity to take advantage of Pakistan’s geo strategic location.
Cooperate with international community to counter terrorism.
Look after Pakistani diaspora.
Two and half year later, we can evaluate what has the government achieved.
Policy of non-interference
In the light of past experience when Pakistan got involved in different regional conflicts and jeopardized its security, it was important to give first priority to Pakistan’s own security through a policy of non-interference.
Such an approach provided policy space to Pakistan’s leadership to focus on Pakistan own priorities.
Throughout the political turmoil in the ME, Pakistan took principled positions so that the fires raging the ME do not reach our shores.
On Syria, we supported sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, and called for Syrian led peaceful resolution of the crisis.
On Yemen, we supported Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity and its political objectives, while expressing our support for a political solution of the crisis in Yemen.
Similar approach was followed in the Ukraine and other crises.
Reached out to Indian leadership (New Delhi, Ufa, Paris, Bangkok, Islamabad). Finally, the two countries have now decided to resume dialogue, address each other’s concerns and promote bilateral cooperation. Maintained Pakistan’s principled position on the Kashmir dispute and effectively projected our view at the UN and other forums.
Made concerted effort to promote peace in Afghanistan (Ashraf Ghani visit Nov. 2014, PM visit May 2015). Genuine effort to facilitate reconciliation (July 2015). The efforts culminated with Heart of Asia Conference on 9 December, where a quadrilateral process was agreed to restart peace process.
Consolidated relations with China. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit in April 2015, led to the landmark initiative of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Good neighbourly relations with Iran, which will improve further after the removal of sanctions.
Global reach-out with focus on economic diplomacy:
Dependence on foreign aid undermines our self-respect as a nation. Government’s focus is on promoting trade relations and attracting investments.
Maintained close ties with the EU, including EU’s GS plus that was secured to boost exports of our traders.
Efforts also made to gain market access in the US, with which relations have been strengthened. Pakistan also working with US on energy projects.
Reached out to Central Asian countries to bolster economic ties. Economic ties with Turkey and other countries have been strengthened.
Reached out to Russia with clear focus on mutually beneficial economic projects.
Pakistan remained actively engaged in UN and other international forums. Pakistan was also accepted a member of the SCO.
Pakistan’s geostrategic location is our strength. This must not continue to be a liability. Government has embarked on an ambitious connectivity project with China linking the two countries through North South Economic Corridor. CPEC would also link Pakistan to Central Asia and Eurasian landmass.
Connectivity projects include CASA 1000 to bring electricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and TAPI Gas Pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan.
Remarkable successes achieved in countering terrorism at a time when the world is still deeply worried about this menace. Operation Zarb-e-Azb was started in June 2014 and the National Action Plan launched in June 2015 are receiving worldwide appreciation. Travel advisories on Pakistan are being revised the world over, and our economic ratings are going up. Pakistan is now emerging on the world scene as a rising economy and attractive destination for investments.
A high priority area for our missions abroad. Consular facilities are being expanded specially in countries with a large population of Pakistan origin.
Evacuation of Pakistanis from Yemen under difficult circumstances, evacuation of Pakistanis from Libya, and facilitation of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia during nationalization phase are manifestation of the clear direction given by the government to our heads of mission abroad to extend full support to the Pakistani communities.
CHALLENGES FOR THE FUTURE
Restoration of durable peace in Afghanistan remains one of the most serious challenges, which the international community faces. For Pakistan, a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is even more important. It is therefore, making sincere efforts to promote reconciliation talks between the Government of Afghanistan and Taliban with support from USA and China.
The resumption of the comprehensive dialogue process between India and Pakistan also presents both challenges and opportunities. In the coming weeks, Pakistan will focus not only on additional confidence building measures but also on resolving longstanding disputes like Jammu and Kashmir, Siachin, and Sir Creek. Implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement of 2003 will also receive priority to ensure tranquillity on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary.
For more information, contact:
Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Ch
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan