In the recent past, Afghanistan has emerged as a focal point on the world stage due to two important developments. Firstly, the seizure of power in Afghanistan by the Communists in 1978, followed by the Soviet military occupation of the country, made it a flashpoint in the conflict between the US and the Soviet blocs till the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. Secondly, Afghanistan aroused international concern when power was seized during the 1990s by the fanatical Taliban regime, which offered sanctuary to the extremist group, Al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to be at this prestigious forum and share with you my thoughts on Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives. Syed Tariq Fatemi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs addressing the KCFR event on “Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Objectives”. Mr. Ahsan Mukhtar Zubairi, Secretary General KCFR, Admiral (R) Shahid Karim Ullah, Co-Chairman KCFR, Lt. Gen. (R) Moin Uddin Haider, Patron KCFR and Air Marshall (R) Riaz Uddin Shaikh, Vice Chairman KCFR also seen in the picture.
The bitter home truth about our foreign policy is that none of the major political parties can deny the opening narrative of PML(N)’s Manifesto for the 2013 election, “Pakistan today is at war within, while isolated abroad. Its independence and sovereignty stand compromised, its economic weaknesses are forcing us to go begging bowl in hand, while foreign states undertake unilateral strikes on its territory and non-state actors use it as a sanctuary to pursue their own agendas.
It is always a great pleasure to be in the “City of Lights”, in the commercial centre of the country, in this vibrant metropolis. I would like to thank you very much for the opportunity to address the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations.From tomorrow onwards Karachi will host for the fourth time the “Karachi Literature Festival”. For three days the Festival will be the place to be to meet writers, thinkers, artists as well as journalists and friends from Pakistan and from abroad.
I’ll address my topic in three parts: firstly, with some basic facts about Australia; secondly, about how we are positioning ourselves in a changing world and; thirdly, what this means for Pakistan– Australia relations.Firstly, about Australia: A key element is its size. It is big, an island continent with a total area of around 7,700,000 sq. kms (10 times the size of Pakistan), around 4,000kms from east to west and 3,000 from north to south. It is the 6th largest country in the world.
After a very tense period, since Uri terrorist incident on September 18, 2016, tensions between Pakistan and India seem to be abating. India has allowed thousands of its nationals, who had been evacuated from areas close to the Pakistan border, to return to their homes. Military officers from both sides are in contact with each other to defuse border tensions. However, the media war in the two countries continues at full throttle. If words could kill, the media on both sides would have done so by now.The Indian media, in particular, has been gripped by war hysteria. Dissent is dubbed as treason and voices of sanity are being silenced.