The address of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Islamabad Security Dialogue on Saturday has assumed special significance in the backdrop of some serious questions being raised by some circles about some foreign policy issues and their bearing on security and economy of the country.
The Army Chief categorically stated Pakistan does not believe in camp politics and seeks to expand and broaden its relations with both China and the United States, adding our ‘bilateral partnership with friends is not at expense of relations with other countries’.
He also pointed out that Pakistan has friendly relations both with Ukraine and the Russian Federation and believes in using diplomacy and dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues with India including the Kashmir dispute.
There is no doubt that the policy of complete neutrality and maintaining positive relations with all countries is reflective of the national aspirations but it must not mean a tilt from one side to the other or establishing closer ties with some countries at the expense of relations with others.
Pakistan suffered hugely in the past as it put all its eggs in one basket and it cannot afford to change basket at the cost of the country’s economic and security interests.
Pakistan’s decision to forge closer ties with our time-tested friend China, especially the historic initiative of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are motivated by its desire to accelerate the pace of socio-economic progress.
Similarly, the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Moscow was not unusual and Pakistan has the need and right to improve ties with Russia.
However, there were serious apprehensions among professionals and foreign policy experts that the way the issue of a diplomatic cable by a Pakistani ambassador was blown out of proportion was unnecessarily damaging country’s relations with the United States, which is our largest trading partner and a major source of foreign exchange earnings/home remittances.
General Bajwa has, therefore, done well by clarifying that Pakistan wants to maintain friendly relations with all countries and has no intention to build ties with one country at the expense of good relations with another.
This approach is midway between two extremes held by Imran Khan, who places emphasis on ‘absolutely not’ for public consumption and Mian Shahbaz Sharif, who said ‘beggars can’t be choosers’.
By defending mutual ties both with the United States and Russia and at the same time condemning attack on a smaller country, the Army Chief has conveyed a Pakistan-centric approach, which should be the priority of our leadership.
He went on to say that the European Union, United Kingdom, Gulf, South East Asia, and Japan were also vital for Pakistan’s national development.
We hope that his clarification would help address misgivings, if any, generated by prevailing volatile political situation in Pakistan.
The remarks of the Army Chief about relations with India also make it clear that Pakistan is willing to engage with India for peaceful resolution of core issues but it would not compromise on its security interests.