Pakistan can’t conquer Kashmir through war: Former Pak foreign minister’s candid confession

ISLAMABAD(PTI): Pakistan’s former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said that Islamabad cannot “conquer Kashmir through war” and progress on the issue can only be made in an environment of mutual trust with India.

In an exclusive interview to Geo News on Sunday, Khar said that the Kashmir issue can only be discussed based on mutual relations. “I believe that Pakistan cannot conquer Kashmir through war and if we cannot do that, the option we are left with is dialogue, and dialogue can only proceed with a partner with which we have normal relations and a certain level of mutual trust,” Dawn quoted her, as saying.

Khar claimed that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) despite being in coalition government then, tried its best to normalise ties with New Delhi through relaxation of visa rules and normalising trade ties for the purpose. She said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif can do much more in terms of relations with neighbours, as his Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz party enjoys majority. “The issues between the two countries cannot be resolved in a hostile environment,” she added.

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Khar, who was Pakistan’s foreign minister from 2011 to 2013, was of the view that the if India and Pakistan continue to talk on the Kashmir issue, then the arch-rivals will reach somewhere at some point of time. On being asked about the military’s influence on Pakistan’s foreign policy, she said that it is a diplomat’s job to carry forward the military’s perspective on issues where the military is a relevant stake holder. She was also of the opinion that some people believe that the Kashmir issue can only be resolved “if there is a BJP government in India and a military government in Pakistan”.

Hina said that during former President Pervez Musharraf tenure, the army general gave India adequate relaxation on the Kashmir issue.

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On international relations

Regarding the souring of relations between Islamabad and Washington and the US’ tilt towards India, Khar said the move was driven by economy, market and added that it was also because of a wish to contain the rising power of China.

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“Now, let us ask ourselves, is the US moving towards India because India is a nuclear state, or because it is a military power, no, it is people power and their democratic traditions, if we want to compete, lets compete on these grounds,” said Khar.

She also termed Pakistan’s entry into Afghan Jihad a ‘mistake’ and maintained that the country’s dependence on Washington is more in “our minds than on the ground”. Criticising Pakistan’s current foreign policy, she maintained that it is “reactive and not active” and added that Islamabad is not taking its own line or direction, but only reacting to circumstances arising in the region or the world at large.

The former foreign minister said that the basic objective of Pakistan’s foreign policy should be to serve the people of the country and not pursuit of power.