Pakistan confident on thwarting any ‘great game’ but silent on drone attacks

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ISLAMABAD – The foreign policy wizards in Islamabad are confident that “no one” would be allowed to turn Pakistan into a battlefield but they are equally speechless on increasing drone attacks inside the country except saying that “they (the attacks) are an infringement on our sovereignty”.
“Beware, don’t try to turn Pakistan into a battlefield… we have the capacity and capability to face the challenges,” a senior official, who sought not to be named, said at an informal discussion with a group of journalists, warning against any plan to initiate a new “great game” in the region. He said any attempt to disturb the balance in Pakistan would be detrimental to international peace and security. “The balance was disturbed in Afghanistan and could not be restored,” he said, cautioning against execution of any such “game” in Pakistan. As the drone attacks have alarmingly increased, he said the position of Pakistan was that “they are not acceptable politically and no international law allows such violations of any country’s territorial sovereignty … we are concerned and we keep conveying our concerns”. He described Pakistan’s foreign policy as “national interest-centric” and defined the national interest as being instinctively and subjectively understood and based on country’s security, sovereignty, socio-economic needs, territorial independence and ideological boundaries.
“Although our policy keeps changing with the situation, the long-term objective to safeguard our strategic policy and the basic concept of national interest remain unchanged,” the official said, adding that the overall orientation of the foreign policy was security-centric which involved the elements of strategic priority and development. However, he admitted that there were external and internal impediments including the situation in Afghanistan, continuing problem with India and terrorism. Articulating the foreign policy contours, he said they were “about Pakistan” and not about relationship and partnership with others. “Pakistan follows a multiple-track approach: the Pakistan-US track, the Pakistan-Afghanistan track, Pakistan-China track, Pakistan-EU track, and Pakistan-India track,” he explained.
“Afghanistan is an immediate issue … our relationship and confidence level with Kabul has increased with some very significant recent visits and interactions from both sides,” he said. However, he dispelled the impression that Pakistan desired a role in Afghanistan and said what Islamabad wanted was a united Afghanistan. “We are not involved in Afghanistan’s problems … it’s a propaganda against us.” The official said US Vice President Joe Biden, during his recent visit to Islamabad, had very bluntly asked about the “bottom-line” of Pakistan’s Afghan policy and he was told that Pakistan wanted peace and stability, united Afghanistan and immediate peace in its provinces adjoining Pakistan. Disowning any Taliban group, he said Pakistan rejected all those elements who were involved in terrorism as they were miscreants and criminals. “We will fight and eliminate them… we will not support them as they are damaging us,” he said, adding that Pakistan was absolutely clear that what they were doing was not allowed in Islam. Painting a global picture with Pakistan being the focal point of international community, he said the visit of the US vice president and President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to the US and his meeting with President Barack Obama clearly suggested that both countries were involved in a long-term partnership and they were already engaged in series of engagements in the current year including the expected visit of the US president to Pakistan. “A trilateral meeting between the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan is scheduled for February 22-24… Pakistan-US strategic talks are being held in April.”
Similarly, he explained Pakistan’s engagement with the European countries on bilateral and multilateral levels with a five-year strategic plan for partnership already discussed and agreed to. “We are clear on our policy of partnership with the US and the European Union and we have also put it across that we do not want a donor-recipient relationship… the cooperation has to be mutually beneficial,” he said, taking pride that Pakistan was an advanced nuclear state.