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'Pakistan's Foreign Policy' - A Peappraisal, by Ambassador Shahid M Amin

(PID:3491701170) Source
posted by The Gateway to South Asian Diplomacy alias South Asian Foreign Relations on Friday 1st of May 2009 03:21:13 PM

Introduction A veteran diplomat, Mr. Shahid Muhammad Amin served in the Pakistan Foreign Service from 1958 to 1997, including 18 years as Ambassador. He was Ambassador to Libya, Soviet Union, France, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, with concurrent accreditation to several other countries. During his diplomatic career, he had postings in New York, Geneva, Kabul, Brussels, Jeddah, New Delhi, Tehran, London, Tripoli, Moscow, Paris, Lagos and Riyadh, apart from serving at the headquarters in Islamabad. Mr. Shahid M. Amin represented Pakistan in several conferences as leader or as a member of Pakistani delegations. He attended Islamic Summits of 1973, 1984 and 1994. He traveled widely in Africa as Special Envoy of the President/Prime Minister of Pakistan. During his diplomatic career of 39 years, he held some very sensitive political assignments including New Delhi, Kabul, Moscow, Tripoli, Riyadh and Paris, He reopened the Pakistan Mission in India in 1976 after a five-year rupture of diplomatic ties, He was Ambassador to the Soviet Union at the peak of the Afghan crisis and was closely involved in the conclusion of Geneva Agreements. Since retirement, Mr. Shahid M. Amin has written extensively on foreign policy and national affairs. He is a regular participant of television and radio programmes and public seminars, and is teaching at the College of Business Management in Karachi. His book entitled Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: A Reappraisal was published in 1999 by the Oxford University Press. He’s writing another book on foreign policy, He is married and has five children. He is a golfer and a cricket fan. Reading is his favorite hobby. Interview with KalPoint.com KalPoint.com (KPDC): Please tell briefly about your self, your education and brought up. Shahid M. Amin (SMA): I was born in Delhi, India in 1936. Because of my father’s posting in Rawalpindi we had to move there. I started my education in Rawalpindi. I did M.A (English Literature) from Punjab University and then I did M.A (International Relations) from Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Boston USA. I also rendered my services as lecturer of English Literature at Gordon College Rawalpindi. I started foreign services from junior posts like 3rd Secretary, 2nd Secretary, 1st Secretary, Counselor, Minister and then finally Ambassador. I spent 39 years in Pakistan Foreign Service. I was ambassador for 18 years to several countries lastly Saudi Arabia as well as I was ambassador to Soviet Union, France, Nigeria and Libya. I saw so many Governments in that period in Pakistan, starting from Ayub Khan till Nawaz Sharif when I retired in 1997. Since then I am involved in writing and speaking on Foreign Policy. I published the book “Pakistan Foreign Policy in 1999 Reappraisal" by the Oxford University Press. Another book of Foreign Policy is currently in the making. I write a lot for newspapers, deliver speeches at seminars and also appear on different radio and Television Talk Shows. So, essentially my interest in foreign affairs continues. I have 5 children and I like my retired life with relatives and friends. KPDC: Since you have written numerous articles on foreign policy, what do you think about the current foreign policy of Pakistan? SMA: By and large we are following the right foreign policy at this time. I support it and generally speaking President Pervez Musharraf has been remarkably successful since 9/11. I don’t recall any other Pakistani President who has had that kind of high profile coverage in the world news media, which President Musharraf has received. He’s pragmatic and he’s capable of understanding the situation accordingly. But off course the problem with Pakistan's Foreign Policy has always been there. We have a kind of unending confrontation with an adversary who’s 9 times larger than us. So this has handicapped us. This has really forced us in the direction in which we might not have walked. We have been forced to look for security from the world. Why? Because basically we are worried about India attacking us or creating a serious situation, so we have looked for the equalizer and have endeavored to establish strength from the military point of view. Fortunately in the last couple of years we have seen an improvement of relation between the two countries. Public opinion is now more assertive. I have not been to India in the recent past but those who have lived in India say that the Indian mood is now changing. People are now in favor of having good relations with Pakistan. But I am afraid that the kind of problem we have had in past is still continuing which is firstly living in a sense of insecurity and secondly looking towards countries like US and a feeling of unequal relationship. If we did not have this factor, we wouldn’t have worried about what US thinks of us today, Pakistan is relatively in a good position. We have a very important geostreg location and then in the presence of fore, occupations, not only by USA but also Russia, China, European Union and other countries are very worried about what they regard as militant extremism in Islam or fundamentalism in Islam. So they look at Pakistan as a progressive, moderate country .The country, which tries to stabilize matthers and this is where Pakistan is getting so much support. They want to support us on the ground that we are responsible. This trend must continue. KPDC: What is the main function of OIC? Is it really working or not? SMA: To be honest Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) is not really effective. It has got some impressive figures. There are 57 members in OIC, which makes more than ¼ of the total membership of the United Nations. They have the capability, after all number is important. There are some major producers of oil. Other countries may not be that affluent but they are equally important like Pakistan because Pakistan has nuclear capability. We have got a very talented manpower. We are really like a kind of a Laboratory a think tank of the Muslim world in many ways. If we create unity amongst OIC’s countries it will havea certain importance. The question is, how we have utilized this entity to advance the interest of the Islamic countries together? There, we have failed generally. Whatever is happening in Iraq, OIC doesn’t take any action. Also as far as Kashmir is concerned there’s no role that problem OIC has played so far. So it has greatly disappointed Muslim opinion. The reasons are complex; one basic is that Islamic countries are many but they don’t have their umanimty of views, they have different interests and different priorities. Kashmir is the priority for Pakistan but not for Syria or Palestine. Now we support the Palestine for that matter but they haven’t supported us on Kashmir. So priorities are different because India is a key country and they don’t want to deteriorate their relations with India. They have their own compulsions and local cir*****stances, which impel them. So this is the problem that we don’t have common positions or same priorities. What was happing in Bosnia? What did the Islamic world do? Nothing!! These are our problems where firstly we need the political will and that means good coordination at very highest level. Like now, we know President Pervez Musharraf has been very active but you can’t name any other leader except Mahatir Mohammad of Malaysia but he is also retired now. In the past we had people like Shah Faisal, Suikarno and others but now have no towering personality. So we need to have strong leaders with sense a of purpose and then there has to be some coordination. OIC can become effective if it has unity and harmony of opinions. KPDC: How do you see the implementation of WTO in 2005 and it’s implications on Pakistan‘s economy? S.M.A: Generally speaking this is some thing that is coming globally, there’s no escape. I tend to take a positive view of this. It means more fair trade. We have presently near about 10 to 11 billion dollar export. We have seen complaining of tariff and other restrictions but after this all such quarrels will hopefully go away. Pakistan is capable of making a spectacular growth in exports and then we can double it. Such kind of thinking we need in Pakistani Economy and over all you must be export oriented without that it’s very difficult to really get any where in the world. We have the example of the East Asia that how well they have done. What did Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea do 30 years back when they were not any better than ourselves but now they have left us far behind. China was not doing any thing mentionable till a few years ago and now the Chinese seem to be coming up like a super power at least in the world economy. So if they can do it so why can’t we? What we need is the enterprise and awareness of the international economic opportunities and then making the best use out of it. We have a very talented people but we should know how to utilize their abilities to the maximum. KPDC: In your opinion what are the key factors Pakistani Government should take to attract foreign investment in Pakistan? S.M.A: We have very good reasons to attract foreign investment in Pakistan. I have always been writing and emphasizing on television and newspaper that it’s not enough to make speeches that we have very attractive investment opportunities. Actually investors are very concerned about the law and order situation here and Government seems to be unable to control it . Now that is not an isolated issue. We have these extremist indoctrinated people in the country and something has to be done in this regard. We must seriously stop poisonous propaganda and brain washing which produce the terrorists and fanatical elements. Another issue in the context of foreign investment is of quality. When I was abroad, I heard so many people saying Oh we got this shipment from Pakistan. The 1st shipment was very good but the 2nd shipment has all kind of defects. For that reason, the reputation is hurt so we should improve our quality control. The world expects certain standard and we must follow them. In Pakistan we may not be use to of those standards but when we are in the world market we’ll have to maintain those standards. We’ll have to be quality conscious and should acquire better technical business practices and good law & order. At this time, there is a willingness in Western Europe, Japan and other countries to help Pakistan in the economic sector. They do wish to come here in greater number. KPDC: Do you think Pakistan should give up the slogan of Kashmir as core issue for strengthening peace process in the region? Or having this Slogan can other issues be resolved? S.M.A: I have written so many times in my books and newspapers on this issue. Kashmir is the case where India has always been guilty morally and legally. Pakistan’s demand has been correct that the people of Kashmir should be allowed to determine their own future. At the same time we also have to look at the ground reality. 57 years have passed and there is no solution of the Kashmir issue. Unless something radical is done the Kashmir issue is not going to be solved for many years to come. In this process Pakistan has been hurt and India has also been hurt. We are the smaller country so we have been hurt more. In the case of Kashmir we need to consider whether it should be given the high priority (that we have been giving) or not. We should always try to support our Kashmir brothers. At the same time we must think of the interest of Pakistan as well. In the context of Afghanistan and Taliban, we said ‘Pakistan First’. ‘Pakistan First’ also applies in the case of Kashmir. We know Jammu, which has a non-Muslim majority, is not going to vote for Pakistan even though you hold the and ‘Ladakh’ also seems to have a population non-Muslim that would go for India rather then with Pakistan. Then we have the valley of Kashmir, which is solidly Muslim and Anti India. But is it ro-Pakistan? Will they give vote to Pakistan or will they choose to be independent? So finally we have to ask these pragmatic questions, at the end of the exercise that will areas under Indian occupation come to Pakistan or not? In the long run, we have to find ways of co existence. The present process, which has started, must not be interrupted. KPDC: Don’t you think that creating Security Council and giving veto power to a few members, is against the basic objectives of United Nation? It has created a lobby of the countries, which have the Power tool against any other nations? SMA: The principle of veto is really undemocratic but it has been there since 1945 and veto power has been given to five major countries USA, Russia, UK, France and China. The philosophy behind the veto power was to give the five key countries right to veto any thing, which they cannot accept. No doubt it’s an undemocratic idea but still these five countries are the big power. They are like ‘Chaudhry’ of the world. This is unfair but at the same time it is realistic. Q8: How do you see the coming up of China in economic sector? It already has a military power and it’s also going to become world economic super power. Do you think that after the collapse of USSR China is going to take the place of USSR? SMA: Yes, it is a possibility it may happen but not in a hurry. China is entirely concentrating on its economic development. It has firmly followed the policy of not having any kind of confrontation with any country. They’re against war between India and Pakistan. Their approach is to build their economy. I have read several article and reports that it will take another 30 to 40 years before it reaches the kind of super power status like USA. China has a spectacular growth rate but will it be maintained? This is the question. KPDC: What would you like to say about your visit to Kalia Group? SMA: It has been a fascinating visit to KalSoft (Pvt) Ltd. This project of Kalia Group is truly a diversified project and it is maintaining high standards in IT and related fields. There seem to be many very bright young people working tremendously. Congratulations & best wishes to Kalia Group for running such an institution. KalPoint.com is doing excellent work in dissemination of information and an enterprise of this kind deserves all encouragement. Best of luck KPDC: What message would you convey to the youngsters of our country? SMA: We have a wonderful country. We struggled so hard by sacrificing a lot. We must learn the value of this country. We must be above all patriotic. We must do every thing to protect and keep its independence and survival. We must have a sense of national purposes. We must allow and help it to make economic progress. We are a very talented people by Allah’s grace. We can do anything but what we lack is the unified effort of a strong leadership. Education and Information Technology is the path to progress. Questions by Netizens Top Q1: With the collaboration of USSR we have established the Steel Mills. Can you tell me is there any other project that was made with the cooperation of Russia? (Amjad - Islamabad) SMA: We have had collaboration with the former Soviet Union now Russia since back in 1961. Firstly they came here for oil exploration and they did find some oil in the 60’s. They were with the Oil & Gas Development Corporations (OGDC) at that time. But there were other projects also in Energy Sector including the production of electricity with the help of fuel. KotAddu and some other places in Punjab have had some Russian involvement .The Steel Mill remains the most famous example and it is now currently doing well. In the past, people thought that this might be a White Elephant but now we get very optimistic reports that they are making profit. The Russians have always been very proud of the Karachi Still Mill. They have built Steel mills in many countries of the world but they term the Karachi Still Mill as the finest, which had been built with the Russian collaboration in any country. Q2: Is there any chance of war between US and Iran. Will US attack on Iran and does Iran have a sufficient force to face US? Will Iran see the same situation like Iraq in that case? (Yumna – Sharjah, UAE) SMA: I don’t think there‘s going to be any war between the US & Iran. We must understand that US is the sole Super Power of the World not only Iran but no other country can match the US. In case of Iraq we know that limited power is being used, otherwise USA has the capability to destroy the whole of Iraq in a matter of few minutes. There are limitations in use of power and also world opinion & the reactions of others friends and allies must be kept in mind. So I’m sure, in case of Iran they will be under pressure by countries like Pakistan not to resort to force against Iran because this will convey a kind of a hatred message to Muslims especially a country like Pakistan, which has very close relations with Iran. But at the same time the Iranians must show sense of responsibility too. What exactly the problem is that they have already signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] and they seem to be violating it. It’s not only the United States but also the European union and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, have been monitoring activities of Iraq and there are reasons to think Iran has been violating its commitment under the [NPT]. Iran should honor its commitment under the [NPT] then there will be no question of aggression of USA on Iran. Q3. Sir I have done MBA and want to join Foreign Services of Pakistan? Can you tell me please how can I join Foreign Service of Pakistan? (Mohi Uddin - Lahore) SMA: You can appear in a competition examination, providing which you can get a reasonably high position. When I appeared I was first in Pakistan at that time and Foreign Service was considered No.1 service but now it seems Foreign Service is not so highly rated. If you are 55 or 75 in position, you can still enter the Foreign Service. KPDC: Thank you very much for sparing your time here and giving us this very informative interview. C U On Net.



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