Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said the military still plays a bloated role in Pakistan’s politics, claiming the prime minister has “much less freedom than he ought to have.”
Despite the first-ever successful transition of power from one civilian government to another after 2013 general elections, the ex-foreign minister believed the powerful military establishment dominates the office of the prime minister. The first female foreign minister of Pakistan made the remarks on Al Jazeera English’s ‘Head to Head’ segment.
Khar also said Pakistan was ‘guilty of being incompetent’ when it came to the presence of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, while denying any role of the PPP-led government in protecting the global terror kingpin.
Dismissing recent claims by former Defence Minister, Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, that the government knew where Bin Laden was, Khar said Mukhtar “doesn’t know the first thing that he’s talking about”, while suggesting the former defence minister did not have any knowledge on the defence or the foreign policy matters of the country.
On the issue of US drone strikes in Pakistan, Khar remained adamant that the Zardari regime did not give backing to the drone strikes. “Drone strikes are counterproductive, what does counterproductive mean, it means that they are actually fuelling extremism, and assisting people to attract more people towards extremism. […] they were against Pakistan’s territorial integrity.”
When challenged on a US State Department cable revealing that former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had given private support for the drone strikes, Rabbani Khar argues that he never said this “when I was in the room” and that she was “pretty much in every important meeting.”
“It is not possible for me to believe that things change so much because of my presence in the room or not (…) some of these things could have been misrepresented or misreported,” Khar added.
In response to a question regarding Pakistan’s alleged support of military groups, the ex-minister said while there were “waves of truth” to the claims but they were “relics of the past” and were “super-imposing on what the present was.”
She went on to argue: “Pakistan did not have the ability, to be able to take on every terror network within the region all at the same time. As far as sponsoring and funding them was concerned, clearly I would like to believe that under our watch, that was not the policy direction at all.”
Regarding Kashmir, she said she “would be very happy if the Kashmiri people get the choice to choose between Pakistan, India or even an independent state” — a third option, which is not included in the United Nations Security Council Resolution on the dispute.