By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday said in pursuit of its foreign policy objectives, Pakistan was playing a pivotal role in promoting peace, security and stability in the region and beyond.
“We do not see our quest for security as a zero-sum game. Rather, we believe in win-win outcomes, maximizing the dividends for all,” the Foreign Minister said in his address to the students at Air University at a discussion on ‘’Pakistan’s Foreign Policy’’.
The Foreign Minister expressed hope that other countries would reciprocate Pakistan’s constructive approach to set a new momentum for peace, progress and prosperity.
Qureshi said Pakistan was focusing on the domestic priorities of people-centered economic development and creation of a welfare state, while at external front, a “peaceful neighborhood” remained the defining construct.
“We believe there is enormous potential to grow and, with progressive, pragmatic and liberal policies, we can infuse economic dynamism internally in Pakistan and across the region,” he said. He said in a daunting environment, Pakistan’s foreign policy priorities were defined to deal with the continuing challenges while taking benefit of emerging opportunities.
“The over-arching framework for our foreign policy continues to be encapsulated by the Quaid’s dictum of “Peace within, Peace without”, he said.
The foreign minister mentioned challenging relations with India particularly in the backdrop of its unilateral decision on changing the status of Jammu and Kashmir. He said the inhuman lockdown of eight million people, continuing for over 70 days, was imposing unspeakable sufferings on the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan made a strong case at the UN General Assembly that the curfew in IOJ&K must be immediately lifted and the Kashmiris be given the right to self-determination. The foreign minister said the desperate attempt by India to portray a situation of “normalcy” in IOJ&K was in sharp contrast to reports of torture and detention by the international media.
“We will continue to stand by Kashmiris in their just struggle for realization of the right to self-determination,” he said, pointing out that India was also pursuing a massive build-up of its nuclear and conventional military forces and acquiring destabilizing capabilities.
“This country resorts to war-mongering and issues nuclear threats including for short term domestic electoral gains. It has repeatedly signalled changes to its declaratory nuclear posture while flirting with pre-emptive and counter-force tendencies,” he said.
Qureshi said these hegemonic pretensions, coupled with a history of aggression against its neighbours, presented a clear and existing danger to regional stability, and to Pakistan’s security. He said Pakistan desired peace and strategic stability in order to focus on its socio-economic development agenda.
“Our conduct continues to be defined by restraint and responsibility, and the avoidance of an arms race.
Pakistan, however, cannot remain oblivious to the evolving security dynamics in its immediate neighbourhood,” he said.
On Afghanistan, he said Pakistan remained committed to supporting all efforts aimed at restoring peace in the country. On China, he said the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership was an anchor of peace and stability in the region. The foreign minister said Pakistan had achieved significant success in fighting terrorism at a staggering human and financial cost, adding that terrorist networks had been disrupted and their infrastructure degraded.