THE sum total of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to the National Security Dialogue in Islamabad on Wednesday was an expression of desire of Pakistan to have normal peaceful ties with all countries of the region so as to exploit its geo-economic potential.
In this regard, he referred to the country’s sincere efforts aimed at restoration of sustainable peace and security in Afghanistan and also made peace overtures towards India by hinting at the possibility of normalization of relations between the two countries provided New Delhi makes the first move towards that end.
The National Security Division, headed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr. Moeed Yousaf, deserves credit for evolving a comprehensive national security framework, which not only takes care of traditional threats and challenges but also non-traditional threats including climate change, food security and economic security.
Initiatives like hosting of security dialogue and policy advisory portal to engage over 100 think tanks and academia over policy making would surely go a long way in crystallizing thinking on different security related issues enabling the authorities concerned to formulate policies that are truly national in character and are owned by the people of Pakistan.
As for the PM’s speech, there is no denying the fact that Pakistan’s full economic potential cannot be exploited without peace in the region.
Pakistan, along with some other countries, has been working on a number of regional connectivity projects and corridors for decades but none of them has so far materialized mainly because of unending turmoil in Afghanistan.
Similarly, it is because of threats emanating from the eastern border that Pakistan is forced to prioritize allocations for defence as there is nothing more important than security and sovereignty of the country.
Successive Pakistani governments went extra mile in offering peace overtures to India but New Delhi never demonstrated sincerity in resolving the core issues that bedevil relations between the two countries.
India illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir and the Modi Government went a step further in annexing the disputed territory and change of status conveyed a message India would not even engage in sham talks with Pakistan on the issue.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has not clarified what he had in mind when he said India should make the first move towards normalization but one hopes he was referring to reversal of all measures that the Indian Government has taken since August 2019.
Short of that, any dialogue on normalization would send a wrong message to the people of Pakistan about Kashmir policy of the Government.