Foreign Minister: Pakistan, US Emphatically Allies Against Terrorism

Khar emphasizes stability, 'democratic journey' in NY talk

NEW YORK, January 15, 2013 — Dialogue between India and Pakistan must be "uninterrupted and uninterruptable," said Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, in her second Asia Society New York appearance in a matter of months. The youngest person and only woman ever to hold the post of Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Khar focused her opening remarks on the three frameworks of what the progam called "Pakistan's democratic journey:" its internal stability, security challenges, and foreign policy.

Khar seemed pleased to announce that Pakistan's internal stability had recently reached a new level, with power balanced and resources evenly distributed between the provinces and federal government. The government has honored the election process, provided social welfare, built a number of new institutions, and, throughout it all, upheld the rule of law. The Foreign Minister also seemed quite proud of the way her country has handled its war on terrorism, citing the 30% of FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas, in the country's northwest) under government control when Khar's government first came to power and the 70% under government control today.

Finally, Khar spoke of Pakistan's effective foreign policy, by referencing its new approach to obtaining peace with India. According to Khar, "international peace is a function of external peace" and vice versa, and she insisted that her government recognized this, that it has worked for peace with India in an unprecedented way. "We must learn our lessons from history," she said. "If I harm my neighbor… animosity knows no boundaries [and]… I'm eventually harming myself." Regarding a recent series of shootings between Indian and Pakistani forces in Kashmir, she expressed a sense of satisfaction that her government had responded to India's "war-mongering" with restraint.

After these opening remarks, Joe Klein, the Time magazine columnist who has traveled to Pakistan with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, entered the stage for the discussion portion of the program. He began by asking about Tahirul Qadri, the cleric who ignited thousands of Pakistani people in protest of government corruption in Islamabad that same day. He noted that the Chief Justice corroborated this notion of government corruption by ordering the arrest of Pakistan's Prime Minister thereafter [also, the government granted the cleric's party symbolic input into the country's electoral process within days of Khar's remarks]. To this, Khar responded with a guarantee that this cleric "means no good," as he attempted to threaten Pakistan's first democratic election in 60 years, which is only two months away.

In a reference to the immense aid that the U.S. has given Pakistan over the years, Klein asked the burning question, "Are we allies?" Khar responded that the two countries are, denying the terrorist nature of Pakistan's past actions, namely that its military and intelligence service had failed to find Bin Laden in Pakistan. Countless Pakistanis have lost their lives to terrorism, she said. If they are the propagators of terrorism, then why are they being attacked? Pakistan, she noted, is fighting a war on behalf of the world. America and Pakistan must persevere and work together. In other words, America must continue to lend support to Pakistan — support, Khar assured her audience, that would be put toward her country's fight against terrorism as well as institution building and the energy sector in order to create opportunities for the people of Pakistan.

The program drew a packed house that seemed to be hanging on to the Foreign Minister's every word. Ultimately, Khar left them with the notion that Pakistan has accomplished sincere growth and that its priorities are development, maturity, and peace.

Reported by Renny Grishpan

Video: Foreign Minister Khar on relations with India (3 min., 4 sec.)

Related links:
Watch the complete program
Photo gallery of Hina Rabbani Khar at Asia Society New York