KARACHI: Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Saturday once again accused India of interfering and promoting terrorism in Pakistan, saying since the Narendra Modi-led government came to power in neighbouring India, border violations and aggression by the Indian forces on Pakistan’s eastern borders had increased manifold.
Addressing the Foreign Ministers’ Forum at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi, Sartaj Aziz said the country had ample evidence of Indian interference and promotion of terrorism in the country and vowed to present proof and evidence to the United Nations.
“Pakistan wants peace in the region and cordial relations with all our neighbours on the basis of equality but we would not compromise on our national security. Pakistan does not want any confrontation with India,” he observed, and added that Pakistan also wants a solution to the core issue of Kashmir as per UN resolutions and the aspirations of Kashmiris living on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC).
Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan believes in a policy of dialogue and resolving all conflicts and issues through meaningful talks but made it clear that dialogue would only be held on the basis of equality and Pakistan would insist on placing the Kashmir issue on the agenda of dialogue with India.
“But in the current scenario and given the aggressive stance adopted by the Indian side, there is little hope for the resumption of the dialogue process with India,” he observed.
Commenting on relations with Afghanistan, he said Pakistan was striving for the resumption of the Afghan reconciliation process between the Taliban and the Afghan government as Afghanistan was an important country in the region and the entire region’s peace is linked to peace in Afghanistan. He said during his recent visit to Kabul, important discussions were held with Afghan officials on resuming the reconciliation process, peace talks and other important issues.
Sartaj Aziz informed that 95 percent of the objectives of Operation Zarb-e-Azb have been accomplished as all the hideouts of terrorists have been destroyed.
Speaking about Pakistan’s foreign policy, he said it saw many highs and lows during the last 10 years. “We don’t interfere in the internal affairs of any state but also don’t want anybody meddling in our affairs as there will be no comprise on our national security,” he maintained.
The adviser said the elimination of terrorism, economic stability and maintaining good relations with all countries on the basis of equality were the three important priorities of the present government.
Regarding elimination of terrorism from the country, he said that effective measures were being taken to uproot terrorism from Pakistani soil and in this regard the Karachi operation was launched in September 2013, which had yielded positive results while in June 2014, Zarb-e-Azb was launched as the situation in Fata was getting out of control.
“Zarb-e-Azb was also a highly successful operation and so far 95 percent of the areas have been cleared of terrorists while the operation to clear the Shawal area is underway at the moment,” he maintained.
He informed that over 60,000 Pakistanis including common people and personnel of the security forces sacrificed their lives in the war against terrorism and added that after the terrorist attack on Army Public School (APS) Peshawar, the National Action Plan (NAP) was conceived and is now being implemented.
Reforms in the Madaris in the country are also being carried out under NAP, he said, and added that the process of registration of religious seminaries is also in process, which would take some time.
Sartaj Aziz also spoke about Pak-China relations, saying the Economic Corridor project was strategically and economically important for both the countries, adding that it was an extremely important project for Pakistan and the government would take all possible steps to turn the project into reality.
“Foreign policies are based on the internal situations of countries, and to have a balanced foreign policy internal peace, political and economic stability are a must,” he added.
Expressing sorrow and grief over the loss of precious lives during a deadly accident in Masjidul Haram, Makkah, he said the Pakistani government and people were with their Muslim and Saudi brethren and added that all those Pakistanis who wanted to return home, would be facilitated by the government.
Former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri stressed that if Narendra Modi wants to become a successful prime minister, he will have to change his policies, and added that Pakistan would only deal with India on the basis of equality.
Criticising the government’s handling of foreign affairs, he said Pakistan is facing difficult times and it needed a full-time foreign minister as currently, the portfolio for the foreign minister is with the prime minister.
Another former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan is situated in a region where it has both friends and foes and added that while preparing the country’s foreign policy, it is required to maintain a balance, especially when it is surrounded by hostile governments in India and Afghanistan