Pakistan cannot “conquer Kashmir through war” and the issue can only be handled in an environment of mutual trust with India, former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said.
Khar, who was foreign minister during 2011-13, said Pakistani children had been taught for six decades that “our national identity is to hate someone” and this had led to hostility with India and Afghanistan.
The former Pakistan People’s Party government had tried its best to improve ties with India by relaxing visa rules and normalising trade ties, she said in an interview with Geo News on Sunday.
“I believe that Pakistan cannot conquer Kashmir through war and if we cannot do that, the option we are left with is dialogue, and dialogue can only proceed with a partner with which we have normal relations and a certain level of mutual trust,” said Khar, who was Pakistan’s youngest and first woman foreign minister.
“In 60 years, we have taught our children that our national identity is to hate someone, and we are doing it with those who are physically the nearest. Hostile with India and now hostile with Afghanistan,” she added.
The issues between India and Pakistan, she said, “cannot be resolved in a hostile environment”. Referring to the Kashmir issue, she said that “if we continue to talk on the issue, then we will reach somewhere”.
Khar said some people believe the Kashmir issue can only be resolved “if there is a BJP government in India and a military government in Pakistan”. Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf gave India “adequate relaxation on the Kashmir issue” during his tenure, she added.
Responding to a question on the Pakistani military’s influence on foreign policy, Khar said it is a diplomat’s job to carry forward the military’s perspective on issues where the military is a relevant stakeholder.
Pakistan’s current foreign policy is “reactive and not active” because the country is not taking its own line or direction and is only reacting to circumstances arising in the region or the world at large, she added.
Khar said a recent downturn in Pakistan-US ties and the US tilt towards India is driven by economy, market and a wish to contain China.
“Now let us ask ourselves, is US moving towards India because India is a nuclear state, or because it is a military power. No, it is people power and their democratic traditions, if we want to compete, let’s compete on these grounds,” she said.
She described Pakistan’s entry into Afghan Jihad a “mistake” and said Islamabad’s dependence on Washington is more in “our minds than on the ground”.