US, India can`t downplay Pak significance: Khar

Pakistan will not accept the supremacy of any country in South Asia, the country`s new Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said.

Updated: Jul 24, 2011, 20:16 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan will not accept the
supremacy of any country in South Asia, the country`s new
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Sunday, contending that
neither the US nor China or India could downplay Islamabad`s
strategic significance in the present scenario.

Khar was reacting to questions about US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton`s recent statement exhorting India to
play a lead role in the Asian region.

Her comments came a day after Premier Yousuf Raza
Gilani rebuffed Clinton`s stand, stating that Pakistan does
not desire to have a `chaudhary` or headman in the region.

"Supremacy is out of the question. Pakistan will not
accept anyone`s supremacy. Pakistan is a sovereign state and
will keep intact its sovereignty and strategic importance in
the region through the pursuit of an effective foreign
policy," Khar told reporters during an interaction at the
Lahore airport.

"Pakistan`s role in this region is probably the most
important now and the US recognises this," she said.

Clinton`s remarks have created a flutter in Pakistan
as they came at a time when relations between Washington and
Islamabad have plunged to a new low.

Explaining Pakistan`s stance, Khar said: "Look,
whatever role anyone wants for someone and what the actual
role is, there can be differences... If the US recognises
India`s role, in the same way it recognises Pakistan`s role.

"We have to have a reality-based and pragmatic
approach and no one downplays Pakistan`s current strategic
significance or importance, not the US, China, or even India".

While protecting its position in the region, Pakistan
will continue to work for peace with all its neighbours, Khar
said.

"(This is) only for the fact that Pakistan wants peace
and stability for its own people," she added.

Asked about the arrest of Kashmiri separatist Ghulam
Nabi Fai by US authorities on charges of clandestinely working
for Pakistan`s ISI, Khar said Fai was a US citizen who had
worked for the Kashmiri cause "properly and within the
limitations as much as we know".

"Kashmir is at the forefront of Pakistan`s engagement.
We need to have a pragmatic approach on how to take forward
this engagement process. We cannot have overnight success in
anything," she said.

"Overnight there can be no major change. We have to
have a process of engagement, confidence-building (and)
reduction of trust deficit so we can take things forward," she
said.

Khar described her meeting with Secretary of State
Clinton on the sidelines of ASEAN meeting in Indonesia as
"very positive".

Clinton emphasised the need for Pakistan and the US to
"go back to the Strategic Dialogue and... get the relationship
back on track", she said.

"She also emphasised that we need to remove whatever
reservations both sides have about each other. We have
strategic convergence in goals and objectives but there are
certain operational issues on which sometimes differences of
opinion arise," Khar said.

PTI