NEW YORK: In a recent interview with Newsweek, Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif expressed Pakistan’s stance on the United States developing a partnership with India. Asif clarified that Pakistan has no objections to such a partnership as long as it does not come at the cost of Islamabad’s interests.
Asif emphasized the importance of maintaining a delicate geopolitical balance between Pakistan’s relationships with the United States, China, and other regional partners. He highlighted Pakistan’s shared borders with China, Afghanistan, Iran, and India, underscoring the need for strategic considerations in navigating these complex relationships.
Stressing the significance of regional stability, Asif stated that substantial improvements are required to ensure Pakistan’s stability. He emphasized the need to counter cross-border terrorist attacks, promote trade, and protect Pakistan’s interests amid shifting geopolitical dynamics.
When discussing India, Asif noted a significant shift in regional politics since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came into power. He highlighted the abandonment of the secular ideology that India had pursued since its independence in 1947. Asif pointed out that Modi’s politics in Gujarat were based on anti-minority sentiments, resulting in communal tensions and polarized support based on Hindu nationalism. This shift in India’s stance has aggravated the situation between the two countries.
Asif acknowledged India’s position as a major global market with over 1.3 billion people, making it an attractive partner for other major economies worldwide. However, he stressed that Pakistan, with its comparatively vulnerable economy, primarily relies on its strategic geographical location. While this location has its advantages, it also exposes Pakistan to certain vulnerabilities.
The defense minister made it clear that Pakistan seeks positive relationships with all countries and aims to improve ties where they are strained. Asif reiterated Pakistan’s desire for peace, highlighting the crucial role it plays in restoring and developing the country’s economy.
While acknowledging past disappointments, Asif underscored the value of Pakistan’s relationship with the United States. He highlighted the historical ties, extensive trade partnerships, and the presence of a large Pakistani diaspora in the United States, which contribute to the mutual benefits of the relationship.
Addressing Pakistan’s nuclear assets, Asif emphasized that they are not intended for jingoistic or hostile purposes. He argued that Pakistan’s nuclear capability has played a significant role in maintaining peace in the region. Asif pointed out that since acquiring nuclear weapons, the large-scale wars between India and Pakistan, which occurred in 1965, 1948, and 1971, have not escalated to the same extent. He viewed Pakistan’s nuclear capability as a deterrent that safeguards the country’s security in a region with a hostile neighboring country.
During the interview, Asif also accused the Chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of orchestrating riots on May 9. He claimed that the attackers specifically targeted military installations, considering them symbols of defense capability. Asif emphasized the need to protect these symbols in a region where Pakistan faces a hostile neighborhood. He criticized the PTI Chief’s arrogance and refusal to negotiate with politicians while insisting on engaging solely with the establishment.
In conclusion, Asif emphasized the importance of maintaining regional stability, peaceful relations with neighboring countries, and understanding Pakistan’s unique geopolitical challenges. He called for a nuanced approach from the international community, particularly the United States, to appreciate Pakistan’s situation and avoid pushing the country into making difficult choices. Asif expressed Pakistan’s willingness to engage with the United States and other nations to foster positive relations and promote mutual prosperity.