— Welcomes S.K. Lambah’s revelation about Pakistan, India agreement to resolve Kashmir
LAHORE: Mian Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan, has emphasized the need for internal unity if Pakistan is to make meaningful progress in the field of foreign policy.
He said that in the current state of disunity and lack of direction in Pakistan, no country, friend or foe, knows how or who to deal with in Pakistan. He said this was a very dangerous situation and could not be allowed to continue and that it was the primary duty of all the stakeholders in Pakistan to bring this to an end. He made these remarks at the Government College University, Lahore while accepting Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions in International Relations and Diplomacy, promoting Pakistan’s relations with major world powers and neighbours and for his efforts to promote regional peace and connectivity.
Mr. Kasuri expressed his happiness at the fact that the recent book ‘In Pursuit of Peace’ by Ambassador S. K Lambah of India who had been the backchannel negotiator between Pakistan and India during PM Manmohan Singh’s tenure had comprehensively confirmed that what Mr. Kasuri had said in his book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove’ published much earlier that Pakistan and India had agreed to resolve all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir.
Kasuri expressed his pleasant surprise at Lambah’s revelation that Modi asked him to continue the dialogue in 2014 on the same Four Points Formula. The former FM said that he was aware that because of the negativity engendered by Hindutva supporters under the Modi government, the relationship between the two countries had become exceedingly tense. PM Modi, Kasuri said, cannot rule India forever.
Even at the best of times, he was able to secure about 37% of the total votes with an overwhelming majority voting for parties who are by and large opposed to the current policies of the BJP government on Muslims, Kashmir and Pakistan. Furthermore, he said, there was no guarantee that Modi would not change these policies, either before or after elections. After all Modi had paid a surprise visit to Lahore in December 2015 to meet former PM Nawaz Sharif.
Besides India, he said, during his tenure, exceptionally close relationship was forged between Pakistan and Bangladesh and he remained in a close personal relationship with his counterpart, Morshed Khan He also made sure to cultivate close relationship with PM Khalida Zia and the then opposition leader and current PM, Hasina Wajed. Similarly, close ties were developed with Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
Mr. Kasuri went on to describe the success of the government at that time in establishing close relationship with the US and China, at the same time. A broad based Strategic Partnership Agreement with the United States was formalized which aimed to promote cooperation in different fields including economic development, science and technology, education, energy, agriculture, and a regular strategic dialogue.
Pakistan had the largest fulbright program for sending students to the US. Additionally, he added, US agreed to not only sell new F-16s, which it had denied to Pakistan for long, but also agreed to upgrade Pakistan’s fleet of F-16s.
The former FM mentioned that at a time when US had refused to cooperate with Pakistan on Civil Nuclear Energy because of what it called the ‘A. Q. Khan affair’, China agreed to sign an agreement with Pakistan before joining the NSG in order to continue cooperation in the field of Civil Nuclear Energy. As a result, many nuclear power plants have been set up in Pakistan.
In Defence matters, cooperation between the two countries has been comprehensive and it involved joint production of advanced weapons systems, including modern and sophisticated JF-17 aircraft, Al-Khalid main battle tanks, and F-22P frigates for the navy.
Pakistan paid special attention to its relationship with Muslim states and exceptionally close relationships were forged with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, U.A.E and Iran. Despite difficulties, there were many high level visits to and from Afghanistan and trade increased from a mere US $23 million to over US $1.2 billion.
Kasuri said that Pakistan forged very close relationships with Britain, France and Germany and despite the fact that Pakistan was a close ally of the US, it vigorously opposed United States proposed attack on Iraq and closely cooperated in this connection with the Foreign Ministers of Germany, France and Russia and as a result the US was unable to get the support of the UN and consequently decided to attack Iraq anyway with the support of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ with disastrous consequences for both Iraq and the US.
Mr. Kasuri emphasized on the need to redress some of Pakistan’s weaknesses, particularly to ensure that there was continuation of policies to ensure economic development. There was also a need for basic agreement between major stakeholders so that these policies could continue despite change in governments.
This could not take place with so much internal disunity. Similarly, scores of MOUs were signed during the visits of Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Foreign Ministers but there was little implementation largely due to turf wars between various departments and governmental agencies. In the end, he emphasized for a proactive foreign policy and highlighted that during his tenure, hardly a week passed by without any President, PM and Foreign Minister or an important international personality visiting Islamabad.