The ASEAN Regional Forum

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said that Pakistan needs no cajoling in combating terror, because it was in the country’s national interest. She was talking to the media after meeting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Nusa Dusa, Indonesia, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum. Ms Khar and Ms Clinton had the tough task of making bilateral relations work, even though the USA had recently engaged in a series of provocations which had led to the rapid deterioration in relations between the two, even though they were supposed to be allies in the USA’s war on terror.

Ms Khar did not say anything exceptionable, for Pakistan is in the forefront of the war against extremism. However, what Ms Khar did not add was that Pakistan had to fight this war because the USA had invaded Muslim lands, and was showing as much extremism as the militants. She also did not mention the fact that American actions, not just in the recent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, but for a long time before, in supporting the illegal occupations of Palestine and Kashmir by Israel and India respectively, were causing the kind of extremism that both countries were finding it necessary to combat.

Ms Khar also spoke about her forthcoming visit to India, where she is to lead the Pakistani team in a review alongside an Indian team headed by her Indian counterpart S. M. Krishna, of the progress so far of the dialogue process between the two countries. She said that the dialogue was a positive step. This would be a fair statement if there was to be any result of the dialogue, and not if there is to be another exhibition of Indian grandstanding and refusal even to acknowledge that there is a problem in Kashmir, let alone that it is the core issue between the two South Asian neighbours.

If India were to acknowledge the problem, all that would need to be worked out would be the modalities of holding the UN-supervised plebiscite that is the only workable solution to the problem.
There is a need for the country to diversify its foreign policy. Ms Khar’s meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, was positive in many respects. Though Pakistan needs its relationship with the USA and needs to settle its various issues with India, it should also show a firmness in its relations with them that is missing from the present government. Ms Khar has made a good start to her tenure; it remains to be seen how she carries out her responsibilities in New Delhi. – Nation