Adviser Sartaj Aziz: The Role of Russia and China is Vital for Regional Changes

Nawaz Sharif’s first contact with Donald Trump was a very pleasant one. India is trying to isolate Pakistan. Islamabad will give a befitting reply to New Delhi on every front. Ties with Afghanistan remain complicated.

Sartaj Aziz is a renowned figure in politics. He used to be a senator and also served as the finance minister and foreign minister under past administrations. He spoke to the members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on 11 February 2017. These days he is the foreign affairs adviser to the prime minister, who is also the present foreign minister. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the architect of Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution, was prime minister and foreign minister simultaneously from December 1971-March 1977. Mimicking the slain premier, who was judicially murdered during the Zia years, the present prime minister, Nawaz Sharif has held the office prime minister and foreign minister since 2013; a trait he is at times vehemently criticised for. We have a tormented constitutional history indeed. The fall of Ayub Khan and the martial law of Yahya Khan meant that the judiciary’s role was tried and tested beyond what one may consider “normal”.

Pakistan’s 1962 Constitution provided that the speaker of the National Assembly should become the acting president until a new president was elected but Abdul Jabbar Khan did not become acting president because the dictator Yahya Khan disgracefully usurped power. In A History of the Judiciary in Pakistan, Hamid Khan describes the period from 1968 to 1975 as “turbulent times”. According to him, Hamoodur Rahman CJ tried to steer the ship as best he could but he was unable save the judiciary from adversity. “During those seven years, the judiciary lived through the political movement against Ayub Khan, the martial law of Yahya Khan, the civilian martial law of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the interim Constitution of 1972, and, finally, the permanent Constitution of 1973”. So it is clear that despite all his purported “people power” Bhutto too was a dictator but wore a suit over a military uniform and some say that he was no more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Yet, even though his abuses of power were somewhat extravagant, no reason existed for him to be judicially murdered during the dark and treacherous Zia years.

It must equally be said that whilst Nawaz Sharif’s first contact with Donald Trump might have been “very pleasant”, it is very clear that the American president is an unpleasant person who is against Muslims, women, blacks, disabled people and the LGBTI community. He wants a “one-state” solution in Palestine and the demise of his national security adviser Michael Flynn shows his controversial links to the Kremlin. American politicians are concerned that he is Putin’s puppet and that his strings are pulled in Moscow.

The media coverage from Sartaj Aziz’s address is available below.

Russia, China to play vital role in regional changes: Sartaj published in The News International on 12 February 2017.

Outlining both the positive and negative aspects of Pakistan’s foreign policy, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, said on Saturday that the root cause of Pakistan-India acrimony was the Kashmir issue. He expressed these views while addressing a gathering of members of the PIIA, intellectual elite of the town, and the media at the institute on Saturday afternoon.

He said that Russia and China will play a vital role in bringing about regional changes. As for ties with Afghanistan, he said that Pakistan was making sincere efforts to resolve her differences with Afghanistan. In this context, he cited the parleys between the Pakistan and Afghan governments in Murree in July 2016 which, he said, were derailed. The Afghan refugees, he said, had become a threat with over 70,000 people having been killed in the country and ecological damage to the KP province to the tune of 150 billion dollars.

He said India was trying to isolate Pakistan but Pakistan will give a befitting reply on every front to New Delhi.

Sartaj said as Modi came on the scene, anti-Pakistan policies and rhetoric became the narrative and relations kept worsening. He said the last straw on the camel’s back was the killing of the Kashmiri youth, Burhan Wani, by the Indian security forces. The worst part of it, he said, was that the Indians were refusing to acknowledge their guilt and claimed that Wani was a Pakistani agent who had crossed over to Kashmir with the sole motive of stirring up trouble.

The killings in Kashmir, he said, had grave consequence, though now even the Indian media were constrained to admit that the movement in Kashmir was purely indigenous. According to him:

We shall have to have global pressure exerted on India to put her defence budget, which has far outstripped Pakistan’s over the last two years, on a leash. We shall have to mobilise the global situation to expose the false Indian narrative.

He said that by admitting India into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, the purpose of non-proliferation would be defeated and that Pakistan would have to strive to have requisite laws drafted in this regard.

Recounting his government’s anti-terror measures, he said that their government, after coming to power in 2013, started off Operation Swat whereby the writ of the government in a majority area of Swat had been restored, along the tribal belt. The intrusion of Daesh into Pakistan, he said, was posing another headache but said that we would overcome the irritant soon.

“Our anti-terror efforts have been widely acknowledged across the globe”, he said.

“Our relations with the Islamic bloc, the Middle East, Russia, and China have improved markedly”, he said.

As for ties with the USA, he said that a marked freeze had taken place in our ties till 2011, and in particular in that year we had the unpleasant events like the Raymond Davis case but as our government was ushered in, we started refreshing our approach. He said we still had differences with the US on the matter of Afghanistan but working groups had been set up in this regard to iron out the differences.

“Foreign policy is not just foreign relations but is an exercise to express core values and ideals of a nation”, he said. Foreign policy, he said, could not be framed in a vacuum but the global realities had to be taken into account. It could not be framed in isolation, he said.

He said that another phenomenon being observed in the present-day world was the inward-looking policies mostly arising from xenophobic tendencies. In the regard, he cited the case of Brexit and Donald Trump’s xenophobic policy towards the people of other faiths, and immigrants.

According to him, that the economic growth rate had come down since 2006 because of a marked decline of investment which, in turn, resulted from the security situation which had global ramifications.

He expressed optimism that after a decade, loadshedding and power breakdowns would be a thing of the past.

Pakistan wants friendly, lasting ties with new US administration, says Sartaj Aziz, published in Daily Pakistan on 11 February 2017.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz Saturday said that Pakistan desired good, friendly and lasting ties with the new administration of United States.

He was talking to media men at the PIIA. Sartaj Aziz said that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s first contact with US President Donald Trump was a very pleasant one.

Pakistan and US have some common objectives mainly the situation in Afghanistan, eradication of terrorism and enhancement in trade.

He further pointed out that Pakistan would continue to raise the Kashmir issue at every forum and platform and “I have given a policy statement on the floor of the House as well”.

The Adviser said that for the resolution of this outstanding issue, a number of letters had already been written to the United Nations Secretary General and the UN Security Council in this very regard.

He stated that Indian had been trying to divert world attention on the Kashmir issue by imputing false and baseless allegations.

However, now there are voices emerging from within India itself that the Kashmir issue is a reality and its solution would have to be found.

Sartaj Aziz also spoke of the blatant violations of the Line of Control (LOC) by India and pointed out that Pakistan gave a befitting reply to the unprovoked Indian firing along the ceasefire line from time to time. He said that India has now realized that the Kashmir issue cannot be suppressed.

To a question regarding the detention of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the Adviser said that Hafiz Saeed had been detained under the National Action Plan and this matter pertains to the Ministry of Interior.

To another question, he said that there is no plan under consideration for placing travel restrictions on the Pakistanis by the US.

Pak concerned over peace in Indian Ocean: Aziz published in Tribune on 11 February 2017.

This is a report about Mr Aziz’s talk elsewhere in Karachi.Pakistan’s top diplomat Sartaj Aziz on Saturday claimed that India’s “expansionist” maritime security strategy and un-demarked border of Sir Creek posed “a threat” to security of the Indian Ocean.

“The un-demarcated borders in Sir Creek have the potential to cast a shadow on maritime security. India’s evolving expansionist maritime security strategy is a cause for concern for peace in Indian Ocean,” Aziz, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ‘s Advisor on Foreign Affairs, said at a conference on Strategic outlook in Indian Ocean Region 2030 and Beyond – Evolving Challenges and Strategies — an event organised by the Pakistan Navy as part of a multi-nation five-day naval exercise in the Arabian Sea. He said:

Nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean has also led to further instability in the region.

Aziz claimed, adding that Pakistan’s trade — 95 per cent of which is through sea routes — depended on stability in the region and remarked:

Militarisation of the Indian Ocean region, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, increased missile capabilities and power projection by foreign militaries are a threat to peace in the Indian Ocean Region. And this trend is likely to intensify in the coming years

And to add to this complex scenario, today, the Indian Ocean faces many non-traditional security challenges and threats including piracy, illegal fishing, human trafficking, drug smuggling, trafficking of weapons, maritime pollution and climate change.

According to Aziz, Pakistan was the third largest Indian Ocean littoral country and therefore continued to push for “realising economic potential of the region”. He concluded that:

We are aware of our national interests and every effort would be made to strengthen our capacity to ensure that we remain ready to meet the emerging maritime security challenges. For us, to remain oblivious of the developments taking place in the Indian Ocean Region is not an option. These developments have a direct impact on our security and prosperity.

Posted by Editor.

As explained in an earlier post, in November 2017, PIIA will be hosting some special events in relation to our Seventieth Anniversary. Coverage of our recent events can be found via the links below:


Filed under Afghanistan, Bhutto, Brexit, China, Constitution 1973, Disarmament, Europe, Human Rights, India, Islamophobia, Pakistan Horizon, Palestine, Russia, Trump, United States

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