We Don’t Have A Lot Of Time: Khawaja Asif

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said that Pakistan will have to swiftly change its direction while keeping the current situation in view.

Envoys to some major countries and multilateral institutions participated in the three-day conference which deliberated on changes unfolding in the geopolitical environment.

“We are undergoing a seismic shift,” Asif said during a press conference, referring to the “altering” regional and international situation.

He added that the geopolitical changes taking place in the world were unprecedented. “Perhaps, such changes were not even witnessed after the Second World War. New allignments have been made, strategic policies are dictating nations’ interests.”

“We [Pakistan] have to review these situations pragmatically and take the right direction. We have to quickly adjust our direction,” the foreign minister said.

The US policy on South Asia and Afghanistan was discussed during the final session of the envoys conference and Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, provided a briefing on the situation following US President Donald Trump’s statements.

“After the briefing, we have come to understand the different dimensions of the problem.”

The minister said that there is a 50 to 60-year-long history behind the Washington policy and the regional situation “which is gradually unfolding”.

“In my personal view, [in the course of this history], we have only incurred losses and haven’t gained much,” he said.

“We don’t have a lot of time — the developing regional situations do not allow us to take our time,” the minister reiterated, stressing on the urgency of the matter.

During the envoys conference, Pakistan’s war against terror was also discussed, he said, adding “There is a difference ─ a distance ─ between the world’s perception and Pakistan’s perception [of the war].”

A day earlier, the United States had reminded Pakistan that it “must change its approach” to terrorism. The US State Department had also reminded Pakistan of the need to fight all militant groups operating in the South Asian region.

Washington also praised the BRICS forum, which, in its recently held meeting of the alliance’s leaders, termed militant groups allegedly based in Pakistan a regional security concern and called for their patrons to be held to account.

The groups mentioned in the BRICS statement included the Afghan Tali­ban, militant Islamic State group, Al Qaeda and its affiliates, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Teh­reek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Hizbut Tahrir.

Some of them are based in Afghanistan and use their bases for launching attacks into Pakistan. On Dec 16, 2014, one of them — TTP — raided a school in Peshawar and killed 141 people, including 132 children.

Credit: Dawn

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