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Pak military's intentions towards India 'overrated': Khar

Claiming that army does not run Pakistan's foreign policy, foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said the military's intentions towards India have been "overrated" and there is a need to break away from this perception.

world Updated: Aug 17, 2011 17:09 IST

Claiming that army does not run Pakistan's foreign policy, foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said the military's intentions towards India have been "overrated" and there is a need to break away from this perception.

"We sometimes overrate the role of the military and overrate their intentions especially when it comes to India... Let's not be burdened by our history. Let's move forward. I think Pakistan has learnt its lessons," said 34-year-old Khar, the youngest and first woman foreign minister of the country.

Khar made the remarks during an interview with Newsweek magazine's Pakistan edition when she was asked about the role of the Pakistan Army and the ISI's historical ties with militant groups, especially those fighting in Jammu and Kashmir.

She contended that Pakistan's foreign policy was not directed by the army, which was one of the institutions "taken on board" while making decisions on key issues.

"The army does not run our foreign policy," she said. "They (the army) are important stakeholders and not an outside force, so we should stop viewing them as such. After all the institutions are taken on board, a view emerges, and that is the government's view, which is Pakistan's view," she said.

Referring to her visit to New Delhi last month for talks with her Indian counterpart S M Krishna, Khar said: "The dialogue process with India should be uninterrupted and uninterruptible, and the environment we found there was exceptionally healthy. That to me was the biggest confidence-building measure."

Khar was not pleased with the media's focus on her fashionable clothes and accessories during her visit. However, she contended she had achieved the objectives of her visit.

"Whatever goals and expectations we went with to India, we achieved," she said.

This included a commitment toward facilitating greater trade and travel between the two parts of Kashmir and keeping the talks going.

Referring to the headlines on both sides of the border about her accessories, including Cavalli sunglasses, Mikimoto pearls and an expensive Birkin bag, Khar said: "People were calling it the Ministry of Fashion Affairs... I am very comfortable with the fact that I am much more than that."

Khar's comments about the role of the military were in marked contrast to powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's assertion that Pakistan and its army were "India-centric" because the two countries have unresolved issues and a history of conflict.

During an interaction with journalists last year, Kayani made it clear that his force remained "India-centric" despite the growing threat posed by a raging insurgency waged by groups linked to Taliban and al Qaeda.

Foreign ministry insiders have said that Khar was elevated from the post of minister of state to a full-fledged minister in July because the powerful military establishment perceived her as not being as independent-minded as her predecessor, Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Qureshi was dropped from the post during a Cabinet reshuffle earlier this year after he angered the military with his opposition to efforts to free CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who was arrested in Lahore after he shot and killed two men believed to be working for the ISI.