ISLAMABAD: An ‘objective assessment’ of Pakistan’s foreign relations since the PML-N government came to power “does not support the view projected in sections of the media that Pakistan is being isolated and its foreign policy lacks direction”, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said at the concluding session of the envoys’ conference held at the Foreign Office on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s ‘monumental’ foreign policy achievements over the past three years, according to Sartaj Aziz:
• Pak-China ties
• Casa-1000 power project
• Tapi gas pipeline
• Restoration of air links with C. Asian countries
• Shanghai Cooperation Organisation membership
• Resumption of dialogue with US
• Deeper economic links to EU, Russia
• Exporting labour to Middle Eastern countries
Flanked by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who will address conference participants during the session, Aziz said Pakistan’s “monumental achievements” over the past three years are illustrated by the undertaking of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and a strategic partnership with China.
Pakistan’s second greatest foreign policy achievement since the PML-N came to power is enhanced cooperation with Central Asian republics in the form of the Casa-1000 power project and the Tapi gas pipeline ─ construction on which began in May 2016 and December 2015 respectively ─ and restoration of air links with C. Asian countries, Aziz said.
Membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which reflects “new geo-political alignments” will show Pakistan is “on the right side of history”, Aziz said. The bloc was originally formed to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighbouring Afghanistan. Other members include China, Russia, India and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
The foreign affairs adviser went on to list strategic dialogue with the United States, broadening the agenda from security to geo-economics “while protecting national interests”, deeper trade ties to the European Union and Russia, and “strengthening economic ties” with Middle Eastern countries through exporting labour as part of Pakistan’s foreign policy achievements.
The envoys’ conference was to take up issues including ties with India (especially within the context of the Kashmir uprising), US, Afghanistan, China, Russia, and the EU; the Saarc summit; Nuclear Suppliers Group membership and disarmament affairs; and terrorism and UN-related matters.
The envoys attending the conference are Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani (Washington), Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi (United Nations — New York), High Commissioner Abdul Basit (New Delhi), Ambassador Masood Khalid (Beijing), Ambassador Qazi Khalilullah (Moscow), Ambassador Tehmina Janjua (United Nations — Geneva and Conference on Disarmament), Ambassador Nagmana Hashmi (Brussels and EU), Ambassador Ayesha Riyaz (Vienna and IAEA) and Ambassador Abrar Hussain (Kabul).