Millennium Post

Pakistan seeks greater trust with India

Pakistan has ruled out an unilateral withdrawal of its troops from Siachen, the world's highest battlefield, and sought greater trust with India.

What is important is not just withdrawing troops but that the withdrawal happens when both countries trust each other, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said while speaking at her alma mater, the Lahore University of Management and Sciences [LUMS], yesterday.

The Kashmir issue is still a hurdle in improving ties between India and Pakistan and the time had come to 'determine how to resolve' it, she said.

Asked about Pakistan's ties with its neighbours, Khar was quoted by The Express Tribune as saying that it was in the country's interest to establish peaceful relations with each of its neighbours.

Any instability in neighbouring countries would result in a 'spill out' effect that would affect the region, she said.

Replying to a question about the role Pakistan will play in the Afghan peace process, Khar said that 'if asked to be a party' to an Afghan-led reconciliatory process, Islamabad will assist in whatever capacity possible.

Khar had a simple solution to foreign policy problems, saying that 'in pursuing its goals and objectives, Pakistan wants to be a responsible global player'.

She described drone attacks as a 'complex problem', saying that the relationship with the US, though valued, could not continue 'at the cost of [Pakistan's] sovereignty'.

'A long term relationship with any superpower can only work if it is based on mutual interest and respect,' Khar said.

Asked about US Special Envoy Marc Grossman's talks with army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Khar said the meeting should not cause any undue concern.

Every national institution, including the General Headquarters, is a stakeholder, she said.

Discussing 'the role of foreign elements' in the unrest in Balochistan, Khar said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had raised the issue with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh during a meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh.

However, it is necessary for Pakistan to become 'strong internally' to resist threats from external elements, she said.

Khar graduated from LUMS with a BSc in economics in 1999.

On a lighter note, she told students that studying economics as a major had served her well.

'Everything is moving towards economic diplomacy so having an understanding of the subject has helped me.'
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