|Hina Rabbani Khar|
Hina Rabbani Khar was addressing a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) here after conducting a series of meetings with the British leadership as part of the Enchanted Strategic Dialogue.
Both foreign ministers poured praise on each other and the “close and growing ties” between the two countries, but the Pakistani foreign secretary bluntly said that the United States will have to understand and accept the “preconditions” that Pakistan will set as a bedrock of its relations with the Washington, which will mean “pursuing what’s in the mutual interest, pursuing a track which is predictable, transparent and sustainable”. She also said the relations between the US and Pakistan had been obscure in the past, but that policy was no longer workable and needed new definition.
|Secretary William Hague|
“The fact that we have such a dialogue is testament to the fact that this is a mature relationship which is growing stronger all the time. In Britain we are committed to a relationship with Pakistan that is deep, long term and strategic. We value its many distinctive characteristics; such as the close personal ties between hundreds of thousands of our citizens, our crucial partnership against terrorism, our important trade ties and our unswerving commitment to Pakistan’s development and to its democratic future. For all these reasons Pakistan’s future matters greatly to us and so we will be an enduring friend to the government and people of Pakistan.”
He said Britain understood the terrible losses terrorism has inflicted upon Pakistan and “we feel them deeply too,” adding that the people of Pakistan will always have “our sympathy, our understanding, and our robust support in addressing these problems”.
He said the two sides discussed how to increase bilateral trade to £2.5 billion by 2015, and particularly welcomed the World Trade Organization’s decision to grant a waiver for an EU trade package for Pakistan.
|Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend|
As Britain prepared to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and host the Olympics, Hague hoped that the people of Pakistan would be able to “share in this with us, and both events promise to be a rewarding time for our cultural and sporting ties.” He thanked Pakistan for its “principled position on the Syrian issue”. He also said Britain will support Pakistan on all international platforms to achieve its development targets.
The News asked both foreign secretaries if the two officials were on the same page with regard to negotiations with the Taliban, and, being the strongest foreign ally of the United States, what the UK’s take on the strained Pak-US relations was.
William Hague acknowledged that the Pak-US relations were also discussed in the meeting but said that while Britain wished good relations between the countries, it was for the two countries to determine how they conduct their dealings. He added that Britain supported political reconciliation in Afghanistan which has a wider scope and which is in the interest of the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Tellingly, Ms Khar said that Pakistan supported a reconciliation with the Taliban that was “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-driven from the front” but also added that Pakistan and the United Kingdom were on the same page in terms of the Afghan situation.
She remarked that the UK has done exceedingly well in proving itself as a reliable and trustworthy partner. She thanked the UK for its continued support to Pakistan for gaining market access in the west, and expressed her hope that this support continue unabatedly.
The Pakistani foreign secretary also affirmed that the friendship was reflected whenever Pakistan was hit by quakes and floods, and that the people of the UK had proven that they would stand behind Pakistan in its hour of need.
She informed William Hague that Pakistan understood the pain of the Afghan people and mentioned that in its quest to achieve peace and stability in the region Pakistan has lost thousands of its people in the war on terror, especially in the context of suicide bombings, which now stand at an “uncountable” rate. She told British media that Pakistan wished to be understood and its objectives and concerns recognized. She also said that Pakistan and Afghanistan were back on track to developing good relations.
William Hague enquired about the Nato-Isaf supply routes blockade but Khar apprised him that the decision to block the routes, following the killings of Pakistani soldiers, was taken by parliament, and that land routes will remain closed till the policy review is complete. “We have agreed to meet every six months to review progress on various strands,” she stipulated.
The Pakistani foreign minister also addressed a gathering organized by the Oxford University president and the, where she stressed the role of democracy in establishing the rights of the people.
Khar said that democracy, demography and dissonance self criticism and analysis were “key factors of our national life” which would bring about progress and prosperity to Pakistan. The demographic features, she said, would determine the future course for economic development and dissonance would show the path for analyzing endeavors to help correct the attitudes and behaviors.
The issue of Balochistan, the minister clearly stated, was “an internal matter of Pakistan and will be resolved by the provincial assembly and not by the US Congress”. Meanwhile, Khar assured the UK that tension with the United States following the NATO air strike last November would not derail Pakistan’s cooperation with British security services in the run-up to the Olympic Games.
She said the US must accept the new rules of engagement to be set by the Pakistani parliament, and advised the West to learn lessons from the Iraq war and refrain from attacking Iran. She said that Pakistan was not seeking to use the killing of 24 soldiers by NATO as leverage in its ties with Britain, and stressed that both the countries enjoyed intensive cooperation with each other which was getting stronger. “We are getting the right results. In the minds of the average Pakistani, our relationship with the UK is seen in a positive light,” the minister added.