Khursheed Kasuri proposes strong defence body of cabinet

Former foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri Tuesday, emphasising the need for a comprehensive national security policy, proposed that a strong defence committee of the cabinet with its own secretariat under a professional team should be set up to tackle the country’s multifarious security issues.
Kasuri, who is also PTI’s senior leader, made this proposal while talking to media at his residence before an Iftar dinner which he hosted in the honour of journalists.
He said, “Keeping in view the foreign policy challenges of Pakistan we need a full-time foreign minister, while Sartaj Aziz or any other ruling party member who can deliver can be appointed as the foreign minister.”
He said Pakistan faces major political and economic problems and to focus attention on these problems it needs a peaceful neighbourhood.
He added there was increased necessity for greater focus on relations with Afghanistan and India and a need to develop a greater understanding with the United States keeping in view the post-2014 scenario in Afghanistan following cessation of the combat operations.
Commenting upon relations with Afghanistan, he said President Hamid Karzai’s occasional outbursts were aimed at strengthening his political position at home, which would weaken near the Afghan elections in April 2014.
Kasuri remarked that Pakistan should, however, make concerted efforts to prevent an outbreak of a complete civil war-like situation following the exit of Nato/Isaf forces in December 2014.
He added that this could be done by promoting a dialogue between the Taliban and the United States as well as between the Taliban and Karzai government and other elements belonging to ethnic groups such as Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras.
Kasuri said, “Pakistan must learn from the past and not give an impression of interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. We should only facilitate the dialogue which is in our interest in the post-2014 scenario.”
He said the opening of Taliban office in Doha through Pakistani facilitation was a positive development as some sort of agreement among the Afghans, Taliban and United States was essential if Pakistan wants to avert situation similar to Soviet Union’s exit from Afghanistan.
He said, “Pakistan will have to remain diplomatically engaged with the situation in Afghanistan on priority basis as disturbed conditions in our brotherly neighbouring state have a direct destabilising effect on our country.”
Talking about the relations with India, the former foreign minister, welcoming the resumption of back-channel diplomacy, stressed that Islamabad should convince New Delhi that it should take up the issues of Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek on priority as the confidence-building measures (CBMs) would alone not bring long lasting peace to the region.
About ties with the US, Kasuri said, “The US should inform us about its real intentions in Afghanistan against the backdrop of post-2014 scenario. Comprehensive and in-depth discussions with Washington about the ‘End Game’ in Afghanistan should be stressed by Islamabad.”
He said, “Pakistan must convince the United States that its drone policy is counter-productive and the Washington’s reconciliatory efforts will be of no use if it continues this policy.”

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