ISLAMABAD - The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been successful in achieving objectives of foreign policy during its first year in office with main focus on improving Pakistan’s image and strengthening bilateral ties with all the countries.
Giving a detailed review of strategic vision of Pakistan’s foreign policy, achievements and challenges, Sartaj in a statement said primary objective of the foreign policy was to safeguard country’s security and non-interference in the affairs of other countries. He said top priority was accorded to the country’s own security rather than the agendas and priorities of other countries adding that second important objective was to make economic revival and sustained development. He said a monumental achievement was the initiation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which was considered to be a “game-changer” in terms of trade, investment, connectivity and regional economic integration.
About Pakistan’s Afghan policy, he said it aimed at building a friendly and good-neighbourly relationship, in which flawed concepts of the past like “strategic depth” had no place. He said the key principles enunciated by the Prime Minister included mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference and no favorites.
He said, “Our efforts are focused on intensified political dialogue, measures to prevent use of territory against each other, support for Afghan peace and reconciliation process, streamlining transit trade issues, up-scaling bilateral assistance, enhanced border management, refugee return, counter-narcotics, and intensified dialogue at regional and international level. “ Aziz said, “Pakistan’s constructive engagement has helped reduce trust deficit. Pakistan’s contribution to the process of stabilization in Afghanistan is being acknowledged regionally and internationally.” Aziz said intensive engagement with European countries, both bilaterally and in the European Union framework, had produced significant results. Trade, investment and cooperation in social sectors were on the upswing, while counter-terrorism cooperation and security ties continued to strengthen. He said a major achievement for the government had been the grant of the GSP+ status to Pakistan in December 2013. This would help boost Pakistan’s textile exports, generate employment, and contribute to efforts for economic revival.
He said Iran was an important neighbour and the Prime Minister’s visit to Iran in May not only provided an impetus to bilateral relations, but also helped remove perceptions and in evolving a roadmap to enhance bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
He said the key areas of focus remained border security, forward movement in IP gas pipeline projects, exploring practical ways to increase trade in the face of sanctions, and pursuing balanced relations in the Gulf region.
Aziz said the revival of the Pakistan economy in the past one year, as clearly highlighted by many positive economic indicators and also decisive steps to attract foreign investment in energy and some other sectors, had significantly expanded prospects for deeper economic cooperation with other countries. “Our diplomats have effectively defended Pakistan’s position on strategic issues at multilateral fora. We have also successfully mobilized international support for Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts. He said the military operation launched in North Waziristan in June this year, preceded by the operation in Karachi, would not only re-establish the writ of the State in all parts of Pakistan, but also counter the growing culture of violence and intolerance. He said, “There is need to evolve a joint strategy with the new Afghan government to control extremism and terrorism so that our respective territories are not used for attacks or subversion against each other and expanding economic cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
On ties with India, Sartaj said it was the policy of Pakistan that South Asia could not have durable peace and stability unless Pakistan and India made peace. This required building a qualitatively new environment, in which mutual concerns were addressed in a credible way and efforts made to promote an agenda of peace and development, he added. He said Narendra Modi was the choice of the Indian electorate, and Pakistan had already started interaction with the new government. He said the Prime Minister’s early outreach to Modi to congratulate him on BJP’s electoral victory and later participation in the swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi were reflective of his sincere commitment to turning a new page in the relationship. He said the government would continue to seek sustained and result-oriented dialogue, meaningful progress towards resolution of outstanding issues including Kashmir, and enhanced cooperation on economic issues.
Regarding strategic relationship with the US, he said these were being reoriented on the basis of mutual interest and mutual trust.
He said efforts were being made to transform the substantive content of the relationship, and to change the narrative. The US was a key partner in trade and investment, counter-terrorism, and regional stability.
He said the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington in October last year and his interaction with President Obama as well as senior administration officials and key legislators was of far-reaching importance. Sartaj Aziz said the Prime Minister placed his central emphasis on enhanced market access, US investments in energy and other projects, defence and security cooperation, counter-terrorism, and people-to-people exchanges.
He said the Prime Minister’s visit was followed by a resumption of the Strategic Dialogue at the ministerial level, which the Adviser and Secretary Kerry co-chaired. The work of several Joint Working Groups was reviewed and a new group was created on education. “The military operation launched in North Waziristan in June this year, preceded by the operation in Karachi, will not only re-establish the writ of the State in all parts of Pakistan but also counter the growing culture of violence and intolerance”, he added. He also spoke in detail on other future challenges.