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Pakistan charting new path of non-interference, says de-facto foreign minister

March 14th, 2014
12:15 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Pakistan is charting a new future of non-interference with its neighbors, that country’s national security adviser and de facto foreign minister Sartaj Aziz told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“Our policy – Pakistan’s policy – is non-interference and no favorite,” Aziz told Amanpour in London.

Pakistan supported the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1990s, thinking that the radical group would serve as a bulwark against India, Pakistan’s long-time enemy.

“Afghan has been a theater of great power rivalries, great power games for a long time,” he said. “One of the apprehensions of the Afghan government and President Karzai was the Taliban have a better chance because Pakistan is supporting them, and we have convinced him that is not in our security interest.”

Because Aziz is not a member of parliament, he does not have the title of “foreign minister,” but in practice takes on that role.

There has been a rash of brazen attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan recently; attacks killed 19 people on Friday alone, according to Reuters.

The need to resolve the insurgency is made all the more urgent by the scheduled U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of this year.

Both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, there has been back-and-forth about whether the respective governments should fight or negotiate with insurgent groups, including the Taliban.

“The normal policy of talk, talk, fight, fight, is something which has been tried in the past, and has worked well.”

“There are elements in Taliban who know that there is no longer the situation of the nineties when they could all run Afghanistan,” he said. “So these pressures could persuade them to come to the negotiating table.”

The critical step will be for the Afghan government, which will be led by a new president in a matter of months, to offer some kind of power sharing to the Taliban, something “more than they can get in the battle field.”

“If you ask my objective assessment, I don’t see major reconciliation and I don’t see a very large scale civil war, but the middle alternative of the status quo continuing” – a simmering insurgency.

Going on a full-scale offensive in Pakistan, he said, requires being willing to accept the consequences of blowback “no just in the Tribal Areas,” but in the rest of the country.

“So you need a large political consensus that you have tried all options and now this is the way to do it. I think we have achieved now that large consensus, in the past few months.”

That does not necessarily mean that Pakistan is on the verge of a full-scale offensive, but it does mean that the government “will be able to distinguish those who want to talk versus those who don’t want to engage in dialogue.”

There may not be peace in the short run, he admitted.

“They have a lot of capacity to create mayhem in many cities, but that is…a price that we’ll have to pay to restore peace.”

Pakistan’s relations with the United States, a country that provides large financial support, have been strained over the past couple of years – over the incursion into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden, over an allegation that an American CIA agent shot and killed two armed men in Lahore, and over America’s use of drone strikes in Pakistan.

“The damage, the negative fallout of drone attacks far exceeds any advantage you may get in getting a high-value target,” Aziz said. “Our basic point to President Obama when Prime Minister [Nawaz Sharif] met him was that it is becoming counter-productive.”

The attacks have dramatically tapered off, he said, but admitted that the U.S. “will not formally say that we are ending drone strikes.”

America has, he told Amanpour, bought Pakistan’s, and the international community’s argument that the drone strikes are the wrong policy.

Pakistan of course has much longer-term tension with India, its Eastern neighbor and rival. In this area of foreign policy, too, Aziz said that Pakistan is putting high importance on peace with India.

“If your economy is weak you can’t achieve anything else – not unemployment can be solved, [politics] can’t be solved, your sovereignty can’t be protected and your position gets much weaker. And that requires, apart from energy crisis and so on and so forth, peaceful neighborhood.”

“That is why the policy of having peace with Afghanistan and peace with India are a critical priority.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Pakistan
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Ike Emmanuel Ugochukwu

    I just hope his being truthful.

    March 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Reply
    • Jack Hollis

      There are liars, damn liars and then there are Muslims.

      March 16, 2014 at 2:37 am | Reply
  2. Fraz

    A good and positive approach.

    March 14, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  3. Muhammad Ayub Khan

    big liar.......the ISI continues to host the haqqanis, the taliban and others like gulbadeen.

    March 14, 2014 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  4. aurelius

    Finally, a man who makes some senses and seem to know what he wants. That can only bring better things on the ground and a better relationship with the US, if only out of the necessity to bear down on Islamic and Taliban terrorists.

    March 14, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Reply
    • Ben

      The Pakistani government and military were vehemently denying that Bin Laden was in Pakistan while in fact they kept him protected near their military compound. So, we can't trust this Pakistani either... These Muslims have no credibility. They will say anything to keep the US aid flowing to them.

      March 15, 2014 at 1:35 am | Reply
    • Jack Hollis

      You are either the most naive person I have read or you are a Muslim.

      March 16, 2014 at 2:40 am | Reply
  5. Sunil

    Pakistanis are born pathological liers. Lied about Osama Bin Laden hide out. Just for financial aid they are friendly to United States, otherwise its an enemy, for supporting India, gave civilian nuclear deal and no help in Kashmir resolution.

    March 15, 2014 at 2:34 am | Reply
    • realistic

      hindus are even bigger liars, just like their goddess sita who lied to rama, that ravana didn't bed her, when half of lanka slept with her for over 7 years, including the monkey that came to search for her, until her other lovers caught it and burnt its freaking tail, the monkey ran back across the ocean but kept silent about his affair with sita.

      March 16, 2014 at 4:49 pm | Reply
      • Santosh

        Where the hell do you get these things and how can speak such fouls things about another religon?
        Is it because you retards are told to treat women like domesticated animals? No wonder you people are dumb and hated.

        March 16, 2014 at 9:49 pm |
  6. Khalid wazir

    Actucly pakistan cmpell to do these all, frm the very beging afghanistan start war with pakistan with the helf of india ,, soviet uni0n Want Warm Water now Whats US want ?? Huge security thearts frm all over so its the rights to protct hmslf pakistan . .

    March 15, 2014 at 7:27 am | Reply
  7. jamal zeb

    If pursued the policy of non interference is the best approach to deal in such situations, it will be very good for Pakistan as well as for other countries in the region that Pakistan focus on the improvement in the standards of living of its citizens, once external threats are minimized the economy will flourish,, but persistence and patience is a must,, i think s aziz and his team is committed

    March 15, 2014 at 9:02 am | Reply
  8. popseal

    Amanpour the Muslim apologist endorses the representative of the country that gave cover to OBL for ten years, what's not to trust about that? By this time only criminally naïve, DHIMMIs, and willfully ignorant fools think the Muslims are a peace loving people.

    March 15, 2014 at 10:35 am | Reply
  9. santosh

    Pakistan is a failed state. No point in comparing it with India. Taliban will take over pakistan and India has to be careful about this.

    March 15, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • Ehtsham

      Fail state?? Few years to go, we will see who is successful and who is fail state.. Taliban will never nor any else can take over Pakistan, our nueclear power not for decuration, if want to exoerience, ask ur army to attach, will send whole india into hell..

      March 16, 2014 at 11:06 am | Reply
      • Santosh

        1. India has a much more advanced nuclear programme.
        2. Paki nuclear programme started after India defeated the paki's in a six day war in which India broke pakiland into two parts.
        3. Paki scientists working in europe stole data from european agencies and that's how the programme started.

        March 16, 2014 at 10:02 pm |
    • realistic

      not as failed as india's toilet systems, that leaves most of its blackies to defecate openly in railway tracks , sewage, and open roads. Ugly disgusting low hygiene smelly people.

      March 16, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Reply
  10. GR8

    Pakistanis are Muslims. They can not give up terrorism. Even if they wear a nicotine patch, they still will be addicted to terrorism. Terrorism is an important part of their daily lives. Terrorism is woven into the fabric of their society. They are taught how to be the best terrorists they can be from their early childhood.

    March 15, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Reply
  11. GR8

    Pakistanis are Muslims. They can not give up terrorism. Even if they wear a nicotine patch, they still will be addicted to terrorism. Terrorism is an important part of their daily lives. Terrorism is woven into the fabric of their society. They aspire to be the best terrorists they can be from their early childhood. This old Muslim sounds ridiculous

    March 15, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  12. Garry Sawyer

    Despite what a few intelligent folks say, Pakistan can't be stable. If they don't fight with their neighbours, an internal Shia-Sunni battle will devour the state. Look at the Middle East, all Muslim states but all they do is kill each other. In a 100 years, when oil runs out, the Muslim community will calm down. Right now everyone talks of US aid to Pakistan but billions more flow through religious charities from Saudi Arabia etc which funds extremist education. Until extreme religious indoctrination stops, the Muslim world will remain unstable.

    March 17, 2014 at 12:11 am | Reply
  13. American Pie

    This drivel from a people who hid Usama Bin Laden, a murderer of 3,000 Americans, and who killed our journalist Dan Pearl and keep sucking on our charity in Billions of US Tax payer dollars each year.
    A country that jails medical doctors and shoots children in the head for wanting to go to school.
    A state that persecutes minorities, women and girls.
    Enough said.
    CNN stop the lies.

    March 18, 2014 at 9:19 am | Reply

    Does anyone know when plebiscite is going to be held in Indian Occupied Kashmir?

    September 26, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Reply
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