Pakistan will not accept the supremacy of any country in South Asia, the country’s new foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Sunday, contending that neither the US nor China or India could downplay Islamabad’s strategic significance in the present scenario.
Ms Khar was reacting to questions about US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s recent statement exhorting India to play a lead role in the Asian region.
Her comments came a day after Premier Yousaf Raza Gilani rebuffed Ms Clinton’s stand, stating that Pakistan does not desire to have a “chaudhary” or headman in the region.
“Supremacy is out of the question. Pakistan will not accept anyone’s supremacy. Pakistan is a sovereign state and will keep intact its sovereignty and strategic importance in the region through the pursuit of an effective foreign policy,” Ms Khar told reporters during an interaction at the Lahore airport.
“Pakistan’s role in this region is probably the most important now and the US recognises this,” she said.
Ms Clinton’s remarks have created a flutter in Pakistan as they came at a time when relations between Washington and Islamabad have plunged to a new low.
Explaining Pakistan’s stance, Ms Khar said: “Look, whatever role anyone wants for someone and what the actual role is, there can be differences…
If the US recognises India’s role, in the same way it recognises Pakistan’s role.
“We have to have a reality-based and pragmatic approach and no one downplays Pakistan’s current strategic significance or importance, not the US, China, or even India”.
While protecting its position in the region, Pakistan will continue to work for peace with all its neighbours, Ms Khar said.
“(This is) only for the fact that Pakistan wants peace and stability for its own people,” she added.
Asked about the arrest of Kashmiri separatist Ghulam Nabi Fai by US authorities on charges of clandestinely working for Pakistan’s ISI, Ms Khar said Fai was a US citizen who had worked for the Kashmiri cause “properly and within the limitations as much as we know”.
“Kashmir is at the forefront of Pakistan’s engagement. We need to have a pragmatic approach on how to take forward this engagement process. We cannot have overnight success in anything,” she said.
“Overnight there can be no major change. We have to have a process of engagement, confidence-building (and) reduction of trust deficit so we can take things forward,” she said.
Ms Khar described her meeting with secretary of state Clinton on the sidelines of Asean meeting in Indonesia as “very positive”. Asian Age