In his opening remarks at his meeting with US secretary of state John Kerry on Monday, Pakistan’s National Security advisor Sartaj Aziz made addressing Islamabad’s concerns about India, particularly the key role US is ceding to New Delhi in Afghanistan, a “pre-requisite” for advancing Pakistan’s strategic relationship with the United States.
“There is a strong perception in Pakistan that while a lot of pressure is exerted on Pakistan on issues of concerns to India, our legitimate concerns are not conveyed to India with the same intensity,” Aziz complained bluntly, insisting that the United States should stop looking at Pakistan from the two specific lenses of Afghanistan or Terrorism. “These are legitimate US concerns but these must be balanced by giving due importance to Pakistan’s own security concerns. There is in fact need for a careful attention to the long term effects of US policies on Pakistan’s security,” he said.
“If these important pre-requisites are met, then the contribution of other elements of this important relationship such as expanded trade, higher level of private investment, long term partnership on some major projects, will become far more significant and mutually reinforcing,” he added, in a clear indication that Pakistan’s foreign policy is still driven by its neurotic and India-centric security concerns.
Aziz also said the overwhelming majority of the people in Pakistan support the normalization of our relations with India, but brought in a familiar albatross into the picture saying they believe that the “resolution of the Kashmir dispute would result in achieving this goal.” At the same time, he added, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s “bold vision of normalizing relations with India is being pursued with full commitment.”
Nothing that Aziz said remotely suggested that Pakistan had moved away from its national security paradigm that is centered around pursuing ”strategic depth” in Afghanistan arising out of fear of India. Even though Aziz said Pakistan wanted to turn its transactional relationship with the US into a strategic one, there was the usual laundry list of demands as both sides kept up their dissembling, most recently exposed by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said in his memoir that he, in effect, kept lying to Congress that Pakistan was an ally when it was anything but.
On his part, Kerry, with a well-chronicled record of funneling vast amounts of aid to Pakistan despite its use of terrorism to further its national security paranoia, spouted the usual bromides. He appreciated the “efforts of the Pakistani government and the civil society to stand up against extremists, and your struggle to develop a Pakistan where every Pakistani has a say and a stake in Pakistan’s success against extremism.”