‘Pakistan wants better ties with all neighbours’

* Sartaj Aziz says external challenges not so hard to handle if country deals with its internal problems
‘Pakistan wants   better ties with   all neighbours’

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said that the government is engaged in devising a comprehensive national security policy to ensure friendly relations with neighbouring countries.
Addressing a seminar on national security at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI)on Thursday, Sartaj Aziz said the government gives top priority to improving its relations with India and positive developments took place in this regard during the last few months as a result of efforts made by the incumbent government.
He said that an uncertain situation in Afghanistan was a great challenge, but Pakistan was committed to working sincerely with the country for bringing peace there, which was vital for the overall progress of the region.
Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan was now focusing on a foreign policy aiming at promotion of trade and economic relations with other countries. He said that under this policy, the government was working round the clock to promote trade relations with European Union, Middle East and Russia. 
Sartaj Aziz said that changes around the world had taken place at a very fast pace. “Concepts like nation state and national sovereignty have eroded. Economic gravity is shifting to Asia. Rise of China is also very important for development. Indian aspirations for becoming a global power and turmoil in the Arab world are the events that Pakistan cannot take its eyes off. In the region, Pakistan enjoys good relations with China but has serious problems with India and Afghanistan. An uncertain situation in Afghanistan is a source of concern for Pakistan. Pakistan also has a problem of improving its image globally. However, all these challenges can be converted into opportunities,” he said. “There is a global consensus that there should be peace in this region. Pakistan’s geo-strategic location is also an asset which can be used to boost trade and cooperation in the energy sector throughout the region.”
Sartaj Aziz emphasised that it was Pakistan’s desire to improve relations with India.
Only a better environment in South Asia would ensure SAARC to realise its full potential, he said. 
He said that Pakistan also needed to reset its relations with the US. He also mentioned the working of the Cabinet Committee on National Security. 
He stressed the fact that in order to find solutions to all these problems, Pakistan would have to put its own house in order. “If Pakistan can deal with its internal problems, external challenges will not be so hard to handle.” Earlier, a number of intellectuals also expressed their views on the issue.
Quaid-i-Azam University’s School of Politics and International Relations Director Zafar Nawaz Jaspal spoke on the topic of ‘Strategy to meet future military challenges to Pakistan’. He was of the view that strategies were never static and they always changed. 
“Strategic environment plays an important role in shaping a suitable strategy... The new government under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif can improve the situation on Pakistan’s Eastern and Western borders, but worst-case scenario cannot be ignored,” he said. “For Pakistan, the biggest threat is India. Afghanistan presents Pakistan with another serious security challenge.”
Jaspal viewed the threat emanating from trans-national terror organisations as the third major security challenge for Pakistan. Citing the Salala incident and the Abbottabad operation, Jaspal termed the military threat from non-regional powers as the fourth major threat. 
He also said that Pakistan’s relations with Iran needed Islamabad’s immediate attention 
ISSI Director General Rasul Bakhsh Rais while talking on the topic of ‘Security studies in Pakistan: continuity and change’ opined that the traditional paradigm of security studies – premised on external military threats – was not capable of fully explaining the national security problems of post-colonial third world states like Pakistan. 
“Security studies cannot be confided to military threats only. Internal security has to be brought under focus. Problems that Pakistan faces, like radicalism, sectarianism, ethnic militancy or the situation in Karachi, requires urgent attention of researchers, scholars and policy makers,” he said.

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