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Pakistan's achievements in foreign policy

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    Pakistan's achievements in foreign policy

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    Pakistan's achievements in foreign policy

    Pakistan can look back to a record of success and growing international stature as it marks its national day in the year 2002. General Pervez Musharraf's early stress after assuming power in October 1999 was on rehabilitating the economy, on improving governance and on restoring inter-provincial harmony. However, even the management of an economy, hobbled by an enormous debt burden, needed the goodwill of key international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, as well as the cooperation of the major western powers.

    General Musharraf also inherited challenges relating to conflict situations in Kashmir on the one hand and Afghanistan on the other. There, the handling of foreign policy loomed large in his preoccupations, even though priority had to be given to domestic reforms and the economic agenda.

    India launched a concerted drive, immediately after Oct. 12, 1999, to get Pakistan expelled from the Commonwealth, whose leaders met in South Africa shortly thereafter. India also got the SAARC summit, that was due to be held in November 1999 at Katmandu, Nepal, postponed, as it did not want to rub shoulders with a military ruler. General Musharraf handled these moves, designed to isolate Pakistan, with considerable success. He personally met the high-powered Commonwealth delegation that came to Pakistan, and reassured them about his goal of restoring democratic governance within the minimum time possible, after carrying out fundamental reforms.

    As the Indian Prime Minister proceeded on a tour of western capitals to malign Pakistan, General Musharraf's response was imaginative and effective. He himself toured a large number of friendly countries, including China, and several Islamic countries to both the east and west of Pakistan. These tours, that also covered other Asian countries, highlighted the fact that Pakistan was not friendless.

    The policy he adopted toward India proved to be equally effective. Almost from the first week after assuming power, he affirmed his commitment to a dialogue with India, with the aim of resolving the contentious issue of Kashmir, as well as other differences. The world witnessed a contrast between General Musharraf's constant efforts of seeking a dialogue "anywhere, any time and at any level" and India's refusal to talk to Pakistan unless it stopped "cross-border terrorism" in Kashmir. The government of General Musharraf accorded high priority to conducting an indigenous struggle for the right of self-determination promised to them in the UN resolutions 50 years ago.

    Certain landmarks stand out in the record of the Musharraf government in the realm of foreign policy. When President Clinton decided to visit South Asia in March 2000, he had originally not included Pakistan in his itinerary. It was a success of Pakistan's diplomacy that he did visit Islamabad, and was impressed by the sincerity and realism of the government in tackling a host of challenges, internal and external. The resultant U.S. good will become a significant element in the readiness of Pakistan's creditors to provide economic relief and support.

    General Musharraf utilized the millennium summit of the UN in September 2000 to project a favorable image of Pakistan, and to break the ice with India by reiterating his commitment to a dialogue.

    The visit of Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji in May2001 to mark the Golden Anniversary of diplomatic relations became a significant milestone. Apart from putting the spotlight on the stable and all-weather friendship between China and Pakistan, he also announced a quantum increase in China's participation in building up Pakistan's economic infrastructure.

    Within then days of the visit of the Chinese prime minister, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee extended an invitation to General Musharraf to a summit meeting in India, discuss the full range of issues between the two countries, including Kashmir. Before proceeding to attend the summit meeting, General Musharraf assumed the presidency of the country, so that he could negotiate at the highest level. He also held consultations with all segments of the people, including politicians, Ulema, intellectuals, Kashmiri leaders and journalists, on the issues to be covered during the summit.

    The Agra summit of July 15-16, 2001 was handled by General Musharraf in a manner that won him domestic acclaim, and an increased international stature. He was able to establish a personal rapport with Vajpayee that brought the two sides close to agreeing on a declaration that highlighted the centrality of a Kashmir solution to good neighborly relations. However, the BJP hardliners vetoed such a declaration. The fact that he returned empty handed on account of his firm stand on Kashmir enhanced his national standing and popularity.

    President Musharraf was looking forward to his visit to New York in September 2001, to resume the dialogue with India, for which even the date (Sept. 25) has been agreed. However, the terrorist outrage on Sept. 11 against symbols of U.s. power and prestige in New York and Washington totally transformed the situation.

    The U.S. which suffered enormous material and human losses on its own territory, declared war against terrorism. President Musharraf was presented with a stark choice, either to join in this war or be considered as a supporter of terrorism. Even a slight delay in an appropriate response could have been disastrous, as India was anxious to grant its bases and military support to the United States. The prompt and positive response given by president Musharraf to the United States _? been approved and welcomed by all section of Pakistani opinion and intelligentsia. This stand is shared by all nations of the world and is indeed mandated by the UN Security Council decision. Pakistan also made efforts to persuade the Taliban to hand over Osma and his associates, to avert another catastrophe for the Afghan people, but regrettably the Taliban's rigid stance led the U.S. and UK to launch an attack on Afghanistan from Oct. 7.

    A combination of events, including the terrorist outrage of Sept.11, and President Musharraf's prompt response to U.S. demands, have put Pakistan in the mainstream of world events. Most sanctions have been lifted, and once things settle down, there are prospects for improved economic growth.

    Pakistan has played its due role in connection with the formation of a broad-based interim government in Kabul that took office on Dec. 22, 2001, as well as with the launching of a major reconstruction effort in the country. The fact that Hamid Karzai, chairman of the interim government, chose Pakistan as the first country he visited in South Asia is a tribute to the success of Pakistan in readjusting its Afghanistan policy to the new realities.

    [This message has been edited by Abdali (edited March 23, 2002).]

    Thanks for sharing Abdali. Really, it's a great honor for Pakistanis. Long Live Pakistan!

    *Play your game - Guess my motto*


      yes abdali pakistan proved it is rational
      and practical . it is good to have pridictable and practical neighbor.


        No wonder, the article is written by the Pakistani Ambassador to Korea.