Revision of foreign policy

IN his first media interaction after taking oath, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi vowed to pursue bipartisan approach in handling foreign policy issues and review policy wherever necessary with a view to correcting its course and direction. He also made known his plans aimed at easing tension with regional countries and neighbours.
If implemented in letter and in spirit, there is no reason that Qureshi’s positive approach would not bear fruit on different fronts safeguarding the core national interests. His invitation to two former Foreign Ministers belonging to PML (N) and PPP and also a representative from MMA is a concrete step towards consensus building on critical foreign policy areas and issues. We have witnessed in the past that in the absence of moves for taking the opposition on board, even good initiatives of the government in power were wrongly criticised, mainly for point scoring. One such example is ‘good neighbourly’ policy of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which has been reiterated by the Foreign Minister of PTI, but he was described as ‘Modi ka yar’. The warm reception given to former Indian cricketer Sidhu especially his hugging by Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa should have been acclaimed universally but some extremist elements across the border are giving it wrong meaning and even a sedition case has been registered against the man who came to Pakistan with a message of peace. Relations between the two neighbours are unlikely to improve unless this mindset changes and solid steps are taken to address core issues through meaningful dialogue. One must appreciate Qureshi for making Kabul visit his first priority and a message of reconciliation and peace to India and one hopes there would be reciprocity for the sake of regional security and peace as plans for economic development are contingent upon sustainable peace. Relations with the US are also uneven and it is to be seen how the new government intends to create a balance between the need to have continued friendly ties with a country that is crucial in terms of trade as well and to safeguard national prestige, integrity and fundamental interests.

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