Pak military`s intentions towards India overrated: Khar

Pak Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar contends that army does not run Islamabad`s foreign policy.

Islamabad: 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

"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

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

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.

During the interview, Khar said she preferred to
keep things simple.

"We really overcomplicate things for ourselves in
this country... I tell my people at the Foreign Office that
when we enter a meeting we must have two objectives that we
want to achieve by the end of it, not 20. If we think
everything is a priority then we mean nothing is a priority."

Khar said Afghanistan is the most "pressing matter"
for the Foreign Ministry.

After the Soviets left in the 1980s, "we were left to
pick the pieces, we were left with three million-plus Afghan
refugees to take care of, who have become a part of our
country and system, and there have been so many issues that
have erupted as a result," she said.

"Anything that happens there will cross over, just look
at how Pakistan has been bogged down by what has been
happening in Afghanistan for the past 30 years," she said.

Alongside the US troop pullout, there should be the
emergence of a "sovereign, independent Afghanistan at peace
with itself no matter who is in power," she added.

Khar said she wanted to redefine relations with the
US, which is Pakistan`s biggest aid donor. "This aid syndrome
is overemphasised, given too much importance and
misrepresented," she said.

"It undermines Pakistan`s importance when you say that
assistance from the US is all that defines our relationship,
there is more to our relationship than just what comes in,"
she said.

Khar categorised recent up and down in Pakistan-US
relations as "operational problems" and maintained things were
not as bad as were being reported in the press.

"It is important to go through some difficult phases, as
we are going through right now, to get some clarity for the
future so that your relationship is not forever defined by
lack of clarity and lack of understanding of real
expectations. We should stop talking about the
disappointments, because those are on both sides," Khar said.


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