Source: News Bharati English29 Jun 2016 14:56:33

Islamabad, June 29: In agreement with the important observation made by former Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar regarding Pakistan vis-a-vis India and Kashmir, senior journalist Zahid Hussein has said that Pakistan has become isolated in global political context.

Speaking at a seminar hosted by the Institute for Policy Reforms (IPR) on challenges and opportunities, he underlined the need to re-examine the country’s foreign policy to end this isolation.

However, he was contradicted by the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi who disagreed with the journalist’s observation endorsing the current foreign policy which according to him was relevant to the requirements of the time.    

The seminar titled “Is Pakistan Isolated? Regional Challenges and Opportunities”, was addressed by former minister Humayun Akhtar Khan, PM’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, Prof Anatol Lieven, and journalist Zahid Hussain.

According to Dawn Hussein gave examples of India and China urging the Nawaz Sharif government to change its course. He said that the two neighbours of Pakistan have progressed because they have focused on their economy.

“The current government has made policies for economic development, but they are yet to be implemented because Pakistan’s foreign policy is driven by national security. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor could be a game changer,” he said.

However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s adviser Tariq Fatemi disagreed with the views of Hussein and said that the foreign policy has been articulated according to the needs of the country.

The journalist said Pakistan’s economic growth rate has been 3pc for the last 10 years and compared this with that of India the economy of which has been growing by 8pc, while China’s economic growth rate has been 7pc over the same time.

“Pakistan has been left far behind, even by Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” he said.

To this, Fatemi said no foreign policy can be called a complete success or failure.

“The PML-N’s manifesto said that the foreign policy will focus on the economy. We have tried to have good relations with Afghanistan because we believe there will be no peace in Pakistan until there is peace in Afghanistan,” he said.

He added that a project of building a motorway from Peshawar to Central Asia is underway and that another motorway will be established between Peshawar and Chabahar. He said relations with Iran are also being focused on as the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project is also important.

He said Pakistan wants good relations with India and that the PML-N led government wanted to resume relations from how they were in 1999. However, he said, the sentiment has to be reciprocal for this to work.

“We have good relations with Arab countries and 100,000 Pakistanis will be sent to Qatar for employment. As far as the Nuclear Supplier Group is concerned, Pakistan has been working on this for months and though the application was given at the last moment, 11 countries supported Pakistan. This was all because of diplomacy,” he said.

He added that for the first time, Pakistan has an agreement for buying sophisticated weapons from Russia.

Also speaking at the event was an eminent historian and author of ‘Pakistan, a Hard Country’, Prof Anatol Lieven who said the breakdown of Afghan peace talks has increased US animus and that during his visit to Washington, he heard questions about the justification of Pakistan’s position in the Afghan peace talks.

He said that though US hostility has increased, China continues to support Pakistan and warned that this support must not be taken as a carte blanche.

“No country wants Pakistan to cross the line between sheltering the Afghan Taliban and arming them. Pakistan will forfeit all goodwill if this were to happen. It is desirable to revive the peace talks,” he said.