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Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, delivered a talk at Chatham House, London on 18 April 2016, in which he outlined the “Strategic Vision of Pakistan Foreign Policy” and gave an insight into the country’s role in the security and stability in the region.

Giving a historical overview of Pakistan’s foreign policy, the Adviser stated that our decision in 1980s to get involved in the Western strategy to counter the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led to many serious long term consequences for the country.

However, Adviser Aziz briefed that the new Strategic Vision for Pakistan Foreign Policy, outlined by Government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif remains mindful of the global and trans-regional challenges of security and stability. He explained that the strategic vision has four major pillars:

i) The first pillar is priority to our own security. This implies a policy of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs and refrain from fighting other’s wars or supporting causes of conflict that do not concern Pakistan directly.

ii) Secondly, making economic revival and sustainable development, the centerpiece of our foreign policy. A low rate of growth not only increases poverty and unemployment but also adversely affects our ability to protect our sovereignty and other vital national interests because of growing dependence on others.

iii) Thirdly, economic revival and social progress cannot be sustained without a peaceful neighbourhood. This in turn requires improved relations with Afghanistan, India, Iran and China.

iv) Finally, we are making concrete efforts to turn Pakistan’s geostrategic location from a liability into an asset through trade, transport and energy connectivity with China, Central Asia and West Asia. This in turn could also help to re-balance our geo-strategic and geo-economic priorities.

Adviser Aziz also briefed the audience on how Pakistan was earnestly implementing the Strategic Vision of its Foreign Policy by promoting regional connectivity, facilitating reconciliation in Afghanistan and seeking to resume Composite Dialogue with India so that all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Kashmir, could be resolved.

Mr Aziz said that Pakistan’s ground realities were rapidly changing for the better, with decisive and comprehensive action to combat violence, terrorism and extremism in Pakistan. He paid rich tribute to the heroic efforts and sacrifices of Pakistan’s armed forces in Zarb-e-Azb supplemented by measures like intelligence based operations, Madrassah reforms and conviction of terrorists through military courts.

Improvement in the security situation has led to visible signs of economic revival and higher investment, informed the Adviser. Additionally, the democratic process and institutions of Pakistan are becoming stronger, supported by an independent judiciary, a strong parliament, free media and a vibrant civil society, said Mr. Aziz.

According to the Adviser, Pakistan’s regional geo-strategic landscape is going to be converted from a liability to an asset due to its close relations with China, as evidenced in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and improved relations with Russia. However, he termed India’s RAW-inspired terrorist campaigns inside Pakistan and ceasefire violations on the LOC in Jammu and Kashmir a cause for concern.

The Adviser informed that due to improved internal security situation, coupled with favourable economic policies, Pakistan stands ready for receiving FDI and ensuring healthy profits on the investments.

The talk was attended by a large number of distinguished scholars, researchers, foreign policy practitioners, media persons and concluded with a Q&A session.

19 April 2016

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