As per Islamabad’s envoy to the United Nations, Pakistan seeks to normalise relations with India, but New Delhi has “signalled” it is only interested in talking about terrorism which does not bode well for the prospects of diplomatic progress between the two nations. Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN ambassador Maleeha Lodhi’s remarks came just a day before Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry met in New Delhi on April 26 on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ regional conference.
“While Islamabad has repeatedly urged Delhi to resume the broad based, comprehensive peace process, India has yet to agree and has instead signalled it is only interested in talking about terrorism. This does not make the prospects of diplomatic progress too bright,” she said. Lodhi addressed students and faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge on 25 April as part of ‘South Asia Week’ being held at the institution and talked about Pakistan’s role in regional stability.
According to a press release issued by Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the UN here, Lodhi said that Pakistan seeks to normalise relations with India by finding political solutions to outstanding disputes. In their first formal bilateral meeting after the terror attack on the Pathankot air base in January, the Foreign Secretaries focused on a range of issues including probe into the attack and Kashmir, which the Pakistani side has asserted was the “core issue”.
Lodhi said that Pakistan’s priorities included economic revival, defeating terrorism and elimination of violent extremism in and around Pakistan. Another priority for Pakistan is building regional peace and stability, which required an end to the conflict in Afghanistan, and normalisation of Pakistan-India relations on an equitable and durable basis, she said.
On China, Lodhi said the country is a “cornerstone” of Pakistan’s foreign policy and Islamabad’s relationship with Beijing is “strategic, historic, trouble free and pivotal to the country’s foreign policy.” Lodhi said that the strategic evolution of the Pakistan-China relationship has accorded the bilateral partnership added significance at a time of a “fundamental change in the global balance of power brought about by China’s rise as a global economic powerhouse.” In recent years, she said bilateral ties with China have broadened and diversified from the traditional focus on defence and military cooperation toward a greater economic and investment orientation.
On how Pakistan will balance its relations with China as well as with the US, she said “to those who ascribe a zero-sum nature to Pakistan’s relations with China and America, a recall of history would help to invalidate this flawed notion,” according to the release. Citing Pakistan’s “good relations” with the US and China from the time of the Cold War, she said “Pakistan intends to play the same role in the future and maintain good relations with both even as the two engage in global competition”.
By – Nikita Goel