INCREASING INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE FORCES PAKISTAN TO TALK OF A NEW FOREIGN POLICY NARRATIVE

The article originally appeared on India Today.

A day after accepting presence of terror groups in Pakistan, its Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has now said that his country’s needs a “new but correct direction in foreign policy narrative aimed at bridging the gap in the perception of Pakistan and some members of the international community on the issue of fighting terrorism.”

He was speaking after a three day meet of selected Pakistani envoys from countries like US, India, Russia and China to deliberate over increasing international criticism for allowing terrorists to use its soil to perpetrate terror in other countries.

“Asif said a new foreign policy narrative has been evolved and this would be finalized after input by the National Security Committee and the Parliament”, Radio Pakistan reported. The meet was organized to brainstorm on important foreign policy issues and “had in depth discussions on the new policy of the United States for South Asia and Pakistan’s relations with neighbouring countries especially India.”

US and India prominently figured in the three-day deliberations, the Radio Pakistan report indicates, “Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States briefed the participants on the US policy which helped crystallize many issues. Similarly, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India also briefed the conference about Pakistan-India relations.”

Though the frank admission by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister on presence of terror groups on its soil has come immediately after the BRICS Declaration which not only named and shamed terrorist groups like LeT, JeM, Haqqani Network and TTP, operating from inside Pakistan but also explicitly warned it, without naming it, when it said that it was primarily the responsibility of countries to prevent and counter terrorism, a course correction by Pakistan had become unavoidable given the incessant warnings by the only superpower of the world, the US, which is also a major aid provide to Pakistan, helping it with over $15 Billion in last five years.

Pakistan finds itself increasingly isolated on the world stage, especially after being repeatedly criticised for offering a safe haven to terrorists by US which even today warned it to change its approach towards terror groups. “We look to the Pakistan government to take decisive action against militant groups based in Pakistan that are a threat to the region,” a US States Department spokesperson said.

The US has taken measures including cutting military aid to Pakistan and is going to curtail its role in Afghanistan while at the same time is looking for a strategic partnership with India in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process even if Pakistan sees an increased Indian presence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests. The BRICS Declaration only added to it.

It has created a sense of panic in Pakistan’s ruling establishment. Though they deny it, their contradicting responses confirm it. A day after the BRICS Declaration, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir rejected it saying Pakistan had no terror safe havens.

But yesterday, in an interview, Khawaja Asif admitted presence of terror groups in Pakistan including India centric terror groups LeT and JeM and went on to say that his country must rein-in terror groups to avoid international embarrassment and needed a clean break from the country’s past. And today, when he emphasised on the need of new foreign policy narrative for Pakistan, it came in the backdrop of Pakistani army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa’s assertion that “if Pakistan had not done enough in the war against terror, then no country in the world had done anything.”

©SantoshChaubey