Campbell Corner Language Exchange

Pakistan's Foreign Policy:
Responding to current global and regional dynamics

by Riaz H. Khokhar
Foreign Secretary of Pakistan
Presented at the Adda Bozeman Lecture
November 12, 2003

It is a great pleasure to be here at Sarah Lawrence. Allow me to begin by felicitating you all on the 75th anniversary of the College. This is indeed a proud moment in the history of this distinguished institution.

For three-quarters of a century, Sarah Lawrence has been a citadel of liberal arts education. All this while, the Sarah Lawrence community has been making its invaluable contribution to America's rich academic, intellectual and social life. The formidable reputation of the college continues to attract students from far and wide, including from my own country. I wish you many more such anniversaries, as the students and faculty carry on their creative work and further energize the spirit of Sarah Lawrence.

It is heartening to have so many young men and women this evening, interested in our region and in Pakistan. In this increasingly interdependent world, we need close interaction and continuous dialogue to understand each other's perspectives.

That we do so in the Adda Bozeman Lecture series is most apt. As the world went through tumultuous times in the past half-century, Adda Bozeman spoke with clarity and forthrightness. Her thinking was ahead of the times, on subjects from strategic intelligence to statecraft to multiculturalism. She produced seminal works on wars and cultures. Long before the unveiling of the Clash of Civilizations, Adda Bozeman stressed the need to understand diverse cultures in order to create the international system on a sound sustainable basis. She understood that the making of foreign policy is governed by mind-sets instilled at schools. She spent three decades of her own life nurturing the minds on this very campus.

Therefore, I see great value in our discourse today, because when you take the reins of this nation as leaders, your policies and postures will be deeply influenced by your perceptions of other cultures and civilizations. More than ever, we need a law-based international society, and I am sure students like you will play a key role in shaping such a society.

If Adda Bozeman was alive today, she would be greatly upset with the current state of affairs. A believer in a multilateral world, she would be dismayed to see the UN weakened, understanding of cultures relegated to the backburner, and a tendency towards simplification on the rise.

In my presentation today, I propose to look at the global and regional landscape, then outline the parameters of Pakistan's foreign policy, and finally give you an idea of how we are coping with these challenges. Pakistan's role in the fight against terrorism will be a recurring theme in my remarks.

Without exaggeration, the horrific and abominable terrorist attacks of 9/11 have shaken the foundations of the international system, creating new uncertainties. This tragedy showed that the US--the sole superpower in the post-Cold war period--is not invulnerable. It also demonstrated that no part of the world is safe from the threat of terrorism, as terrorists struck in Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco.

Some questions have not been answered yet. Did the events of 9/11 mark the end of the unipolar world or did they usher in a new era of multilateralism? Immediately before 9/11, in the US, there was a brief drift towards isolationism. But after September 11, the US relied on an international coalition to wage a war against global terrorism. Later, however, the US came up with a doctrine of unilateralism--saying "with partners if we can, alone if we must"--and pre-emption, which was partially applied to Iraq. What has become evident is that because of enhanced global connectivity, no nation can either act alone or withdraw from international involvement. We all have to move together to make the world a safer place.

Some would argue that we need not idealize the Cold War or post-Cold War periods because some of the basic problems--such as the right to self-determination, an equitable international economic order, and elimination of poverty--remained largely unaddressed. Proxy wars of the Cold War era were succeeded by conflicts in the Balkans, the Middle East, and South Asia. Paradoxically, all these conflicts affected Muslims. International law or the UN norms failed to outlaw wars or deliver justice to people under occupation.

After 9/11, it became clear that non-state actors and transnational developments had emerged as major threats to peace and security. International terrorism, religious extremism, illicit drug production and trafficking, global financial instability, and abject poverty in vast parts of the globe are the unfinished agenda of the last century; all problems which require urgent solutions. These phenomena also dictate more collaboration among all nations--big or small, rich or poor.

Globalization is a reality today and we have to devise ways to manage it effectively. To do so, we need more political leadership and guidance than ever before. As we become global citizens, governance has become part of the international agenda. Global diplomacy is increasingly being defined by efforts to promote financial, economic and commercial cooperation at international, regional and sub-regional levels. Globalization should not be allowed to exacerbate inequalities and exclusion. That is a recipe for disaster.

While the issues that I have outlined just now are pressing in their own right, our most immediate task is to avert a clash of civilizations, a clash between the West and Islam. At first sight, and if you go by the strident media sound bites, it appears that the West and Islam are the fault lines for an inevitable global war. But is this true? The Western leaders have stressed that the war on terrorism is not directed against the Islamic world. It is not an inter-civilizational war. Muslim leaders have said loudly and clearly that they reject terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and that all major religions--Christianity, Judaism and Islam--can coexist on the basis of their common monotheistic ethos. Both sides believe that enlightenment, tolerance, democracy, and economic development provide the basis for a more harmonious world. If that is the consensus at the strategic level, why are we gripped by a fear of a conflict that we would be sucked into involuntarily? Let's dig deeper into the causes.

Today, there are two parallel narratives of the events of 9/11 in the Western and Islamic world. The American public thinks--and rightly so--that the attacks of 9/11 were an evil act. But the more deep-seated perception is that this act was committed not by a handful of terrorists, but that all Muslisms oppose Western civilization and its way of life and want to inflict hatred on US interests all over the world. A simplified version of this perception is: "What do they hate us?" or "You are with us, or against us." Glib media commentators blithely invoke images of the Crusaders and talk of an inherent conflict betwen Christianity and Islam. The news that the Pope visited a mosque for the first time in the history of the Catholic Church is reduced to a blip.

Ironically, there is little understanding here that the 9/11 attacks were as much against the US as against moderate Muslims around the world. What is also not fully understood is that there is a fierce conflict going on within the Islamic world between moderates and extremists.

Statements by people like General Boykin that the Judeo-Christian world was pitted against "the guy named Satan" reinforce misgivings in the Islamic countries. Such remarks get more media coverage than the moderate voices calling for censure. Expressions such as "Islamic terror", "Muslim rage", "Islamic threat" and the "Crisis of Islam," only fuel the charged atmosphere. By such facile characterizations, a distance is created between the enlightened forces in the West and Muslim countries.

The narrative in the Muslim world is that the attacks of 9/11 were evil no doubt, but the widespread fear among Muslim masses is that the war on terrorism would be expanded to target other Muslim states. The majority of the Muslim states are still going through the post-traumatic stress of the colonial period and perceive that their faith and their values are under threat. To reinforce their argument they cite past Western injustices, the United States' unconditional support to Israel, non-resolution of the Kashmir dispute despite a clear mandate from the UN Security Council, religious profiling, demonization of Islam, and Western support for repressive regimes in Muslim countries. They face the predicament of balancing their opposition to terrorism with their rejection of perceived new threats to their identity and polities. The extremists in the Muslims countries are using the US-led campaign against terrorism, the war in Iraq, and the deteriorating situation in the Middle East to mobilize support for themselves against their moderate political rivals.

Both these narratives present a distorted picture. Yet, they call for strategic intervention by the leadership, not acquiescence in a slide towards confrontation. These misperceptions have made the world a dangerous place. Our President, President Pervez Musharraf--a strong believer in promotion of dialogue between the West and the Muslim world--has presented the concept of Enlightened Moderation. It is a two-pronged strategy. The first prong is that Muslims should shun extremism and promote tolerance and moderation within their own societies and focus on socio-economic development. The second prong, to be delivered simultaneously, would require resolution of the political disputes involving Muslims in Palestine and Kashmir, and an upgrade of the West's long-term commitment to economic development in the Muslim countries. Both sides have to reach out to each other. Both sides have to banish prophets of doom and hatred and nurture the bonds that unite them.

In the short-term, of course, the war on terrorism has to be continued with full vigor until it achieves its objectives. But this would only treat the symptoms. The long-term strategy requires a broad-based approach. We have to look beyond Al Qaeda to the breeding grounds of terrorism. We should try to find out what prompts a suicide bomber who kills civilians and blows up a peace process. Non-resolution of political disputes, mass poverty and deprivation, and illiteracy provide fertile recruiting grounds for extremists and terrorists.

Most of the unresolved political disputes and issues involving Muslims are brushed aside on the grounds of realpolitik. This has given rise to hopelessness, frustration and desperation. Foreign occupation and the suppression of the right of peoples to self-determination is a direct or proximate cause for terrorist acts that flow from a sense of despair.

It is ironic that we do not have a precise, operational definition of terrorism. A clear legal definition of terrorism needs to be evolved. We have to address the reality of state terrorism that targets people under occupation and to differentiate between terrorism and the legitimate freedom movements struggling to realize the right of self-determination. Some states are misusing the campaign against terror to continue to suppress their people seeking freedom. Equating this freedom struggle with terrorism is unjust. Then there are acts of violence and mass murder committed by individuals and groups against civilians. No ideology, no doctrine can justify their acts or condone their crimes. It is, however, equally important that there should be no selective application of the international norms and standards against terrorism.

In this context, we should not allow bands of terrorists and extremists to hijack the global agenda. It must be clearly recognized that Bin Laden does not speak for the world of Islam. He speaks only for a fringe, parochial constituency which deeply hurts the soul of Islam. Islam, as Muslims constantly remind us, is a religion of peace, harmony and justice. It preaches humanity, egalitarianism, moderation, tolerance and co-existence. It is progressive and forward-looking. The practices of the extremist fringe are in direct conflict with the true essence of Islam. Their message of extremism, sectarianism and hate has nothing to do with the moderate and tolerant spirit of Islam. Moderate Muslims believe that their noble faith must be reclaimed from these violent usurpers.

The fight against terrorism can only be decisively won through improved and increased international cooperation. Strict law enforcement must go hand in hand with serious efforts to address the root causes. Police action to stop terrorists should be accompanied by political actions to resolve long-standing disputes that provide ready recruits to militants. Strategies should be devised for ensuring political and economic justice. The war on terror should be waged while simultaneously protecting human rights. Civil society and international organizations should be equal stakeholders and jointly fight terrorism at home and abroad.

In the evolving international situation, it would be myopic to think that the United Nations has lost its relevance. Early this year, those who were quick to predict that the UN will meet the same fate as the League of Nations have been proved wrong.

The UN is more relevant today than ever before--not just for the developing countries but also for the most powerful nations. We need the UN in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Liberia--to name just a few examples--for peace-keeping and peace-building. With its global reach we need this Organization for fighting terrorism and other transnational threats; and for managing globalization and trade. Its vast network helps root out poverty and deprivation, disease and illiteracy. I would tend to agree with those who argue that if the UN did not exist, we would have to invent it. Thank God, it already exists!

In the realm of regional dynamics, we witness both healthy and unhealthy trends. The good news is that the majority of the countries are working towards regional and sub-regional cooperation and integration, which serve as building blocks for a more stable and predictable world economy. NAFTA, the European Union, and the ASEAN are the most successful examples in that direction. In South Asia and Central and West Asia we have made a beginning in this direction by creating SAARC and the ECO, but these organizations are not taking off. SAARC remains hamstrung because India won't accept participation on an equal footing with the smaller neighboring states. The ECO-which brings together ten Islamic states of Central, West and South Asia-has not been able to create the necessary critical mass. But the consensus is that regional cooperation is the way forward.

The negative trend in regional dynamics is that so far we have not been able to resolve some of the festering disputes and there are no viable mechanisms available to do so. Some efforts are being made to induce confidence-building measures in order to create conditions for conflict resolution as well as peace and stability. But we are a long way from achieving these objectives. There is, however, a clear realization that unsettled disputes endanger regional economic cooperation and progress.

Now let me turn to Pakistan's foreign policy. In 1947, we created Pakistan, inspired by the ideals of our founding father--Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah--and the popular ethos of the Muslims of South Asia, to raise a modern, moderate, and democratic Muslim state. Our foreign policy since then has been guided by four parameters--security, democracy, development and Islamic identity. Even today these elements are our guiding principles.

Security has been most elusive over the decades. We had to live with a hegemon --India-- on our borders, which never accepted the reality of Pakistan as a strong and stable state. In the West, because of its fascination for Gandhi, there is an illusion that probably one billion non-violent Gandhis live in India. We living next door had to bear the brunt of India's repeated aggression and hostility. We know the reality only too well.

The root cause of tensions and conflict in South Asia is the unresolved dispute of Jammu and Kashmir--a territory of 85,000 square miles, roughly the size of Utah or Minnesota, with a population of 13 million. India and Pakistan have fought three wars over this dispute--wars that could have been avoided. Fifty years ago the UN Security Council had mandated that the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be asked through a plebiscite if they wanted to join India or Pakistan. Pakistan has met all its commitments in this regard while India has honored none. In fact, India has resorted to repression, electoral fraud and dubious constitutional measures to annex the territory, but India has failed to do so because of popular Kashmiri resistance. India has also unsuccessfully tried to tar the Kashmiri freedom movement with the brush of terrorism and committed gross and massive violations of human rights. In the last 14 years, some 85,000 Kashmiri civilians have been killed by Indian troops.

We have repeatedly told India that there is no military solution of the Kashmir dispute. It can be resolved only by peaceful means, through negotiations. President Musharraf traveled to India on a peace mission in August 2001, but an agreement for a comprehensive engagement between the two countries was scuttled at the last minute by BJP hardliners. We made several calls to resume negotiations, but New Delhi rejected our offers and initiatives. In 2002, India resorted to so-called 'coercive diplomacy' and amassed about one million troops on our borders threatening us with war. Realizing the futility of this action, India later partially withdrew its forces from our border.

This year in April, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee offered talks and we reciprocated positively, but soon thereafter India refused to resume a composite dialogue. Since April, Pakistan and India have taken small steps to restore diplomatic and communication links to the pre-December 2001 level, but New Delhi is not ready to talk on Kashmir as well as peace and security in Asia--issues that are at the heart of India-Pakistan tensions.

For its part, Pakistan has made proposals that can form ingredients of a road map for peace in South Asia. We have offered an agreement for a comprehensive ceasefire between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control--the temporary line that divides Jammu and Kashmir--to encourage a general cessation of hostilities inside the Occupied Kashmir with reciprocal obligations for the Indian security forces and the freedom fighters. We have also proposed that in order to verify Indian allegations of movement across the LoC, we could either strengthen the UN military observer group in Kashmir--known as UNMOGIP--or set up a new, impartial mechanism. Our President has gone a step further and said that we are ready to work for a win-win solution by eliminating options that are not acceptable to Pakistan, the Kashmiris and India. Despite these proactive and forward-looking overtures, we are faced with the brick wall of Indian rejections.

It is because of this never-ending impasse that we have always kept the door open for third party mediation or facilitation. We remain hopeful that this conundrum will be solved. The costs of not addressing the problem are very high. The two countries remain locked in a devastating conflict, while one third of the people live below the poverty line.

Pakistan has played a critical role as a frontline state in the war on terrorism. We took the decision to join with the coalition against terrorism in our national interest. For several decades, Pakistan has been a target of the worst form of terrorism. In the early 1980s, when we decided to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, saboteurs and terrorists played havoc in our urban centers. Ironically, some of the holdovers from the foreign Mujahedin who were fighting against the Soviet Union became a potent threat to us. Another source of terrorism was an externally-sponsored battle for sectarian turf in Pakistan. The third and the most sinister form of terrorism against our country was sponsored by the Indian intelligence agencies. As we geared up to fight extremism and promote moderation, we decided to root out terrorism and declared that nobody would be allowed to use our soil for terrorist activities.

What is not understood fully is that because of the Afghan war and the prolonged civil war afterwards, Pakistan had to assimilate serious blows and setbacks. Now we are being consumed by the shocks and aftershocks of the war on terrorism in neighboring Afghanistan. The political, economic, environmental and social costs are enormous. Despite these staggering costs, we are taking concerted action to interdict Al Qaeda fugitives and the Taliban regime remnants.

Over 70,000 of our troops are deployed on the border for this purpose. We have arrested and deported over 500 suspected members of Al Qaeda, including some of its top leaders like Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi bin Al-Shibh, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Effective intelligence and information set-ups have been established. Aerial surveillance has been enhanced. A quick reaction force has been created. Practical measures now effectively halt financial and other support to terrorist organizations. Wide-ranging measures have been taken to marginalize extremists and militants. Several sectarian and extremist groups have been banned and their assets frozen. Madrassa reform has been introduced to acquaint students with modern knowledge along with religious instruction. These measures would go a long war in changing the madrassa culture.

Indeed no country has done more in the fight against terrorism than Pakistan. No other country has made more sacrifices. From President George W. Bush to the leading congressmen and senators, all have singled out Pakistan for praise for the role we have played in stemming the tide of terror. CIA Director George Tenet will tell you that the war on terrorism could not have succeeded without Pakistan's critical help.

We support the Bonn process in Afghanistan and the government of President Karzai. But lack of security in Afghanistan remains a cause of deep concern. We have urged the Security Council to expand the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and extend its operations beyond Kabul and Kunduz so that a semblance of security in the whole of Afghanistan could be created. Both are essential for neutralizing Al Qaeda and starting the task of reconstruction in earnest. Peace in Afghanistan will make that country emerge as a bridge between Pakistan and Central Asia for greater economic cooperation and for routing the latter's vast gas reservoirs to Pakistan and beyond.

Iraq remains an open wound. Daily casualties of American soldiers flashed across the Television screens bring pain and sorrow to your homes. On the other hand, the instability and strife in Iraq fuels Arab anger and creates uncertainty. There is no magic wand to fix the situation in Iraq, but we believe that a speedy political transition enabling the Iraqi people to choose their own government and empowering the UN to conduct peacekeeping operations would promise an early closure of this issue.

In the Middle East, the Quartet's road map--envisaging Israel and Palestine coexisting as two sovereign states side by side in peace and security--has been badly bruised. There is an urgent need to repair it and put it back on track, because what happens in the Middle East has a resonance throughout the Islamic world.

Pakistan has a multidimensional relationship with China, which is strategic in nature. Our perceptions on major global and regional issues fully converge. Our excellent cooperation extends to diverse fields--from political to economic to trade to defense. It is our firm belief that the Pakistan-China relationship is a factor of stability in South Asia. During President Musharraf's visit to Beijing just last week, the two countries signed a Joint Declaration on Directions of Bilateral Relations, which would go a long way in reinforcing an all round and comprehensive partnership in the 21st century.

Traditionally, we have nurtured close ties with the Islamic world where Pakistan is considered to be a key player. Recently, we have taken an initiative to make the 57-member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference a vibrant forum and an effective vehicle for conducting a dialogue with the non-Muslim world.

Last, but not the least, today we have our most important relationship with the United States. Like President Reagan, Americans see the US as the shining city on the hill. In the aftermath of September 11, they are puzzled at the anger against the US. What I can tell you is that the US has been a symbol of liberty and fairplay and a land of equal opportunity. The world would still like to see the US cast in that image.

Pakistan and the US have been close allies during and after the Cold War, though our relations have been jolted from time to time by a cyclical pattern. Today, we can say with satisfaction that our ties are governed by a new architecture encompassing cooperation in the political, economic, and defense spheres. What we are trying to do is to look beyond the war on terrorism and create a long-term, sustainable partnership that will serve our interests in the years to come. In this phase, we are not looking for grants and assistance, but enhanced market access and US investment in Pakistan. Together, we can work for a more secure and prosperous world.

Pakistan is against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction . We had to conduct nuclear tests in 1998, following Indian tests, to restore the strategic balance in South Asia. For our defense, we are maintaining a minimum credible nuclear deterrence. The purpose of this deterrent is to defend ourselves, not to threaten any country. The strategic and conventional balance between India and Pakistan is the best guarantor of peace and security in our region.

Following the nuclear tests of 1998, Pakistan proposed the adoption of a Strategic Restraint Regime (SRR) for South Asia, with three interlocking elements:

One: agreed and reciprocal measures for nuclear and missile restraint to prevent deliberate or accidental use of nuclear weapons;

Two: establishment of conventional arms balance as a confidence building measure between the two countries;

Three: establishment of a political mechanism for resolving bilateral conflicts, especially the core dispute over Jammu and Kashmir

Regrettably, India continues to reject the idea of a Strategic Restraint Regime. India has outlined a "nuclear doctrine" that envisages the development and deployment of a classical 'triad' of land-, air- and sea-based nuclear assets. Simultaneously, India continues its headlong acquisition of sophisticated weapons systems from abroad and development of multiple missile systems of varying sizes and capabilities.

Pakistan does not wish to enter into an arms race with India, which we believe would be destructive for the entire region. For both countries, it would be economically unsustainable and morally untenable. Both countries need these precious resources to address their developmental needs and to give a hopeful tomorrow to their peoples who remain mired in poverty.

Therefore, in order to preserve the stability of strategic deterrence in South Asia, Pakistan has made specific proposals. These include: (i) a bilateral moratorium on further nuclear testing; (ii) maintenance of nuclear weapons on de-alert status; (iii) non-deployment of nuclear capable ballistic missiles; (iv) formalization of the understanding to provide prior adequate notification of flight tests of missiles; (v) acceptance of a moratorium on the acquisition and deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems; (vi) CBMs to reduce the risk of use of nuclear weapons by miscalculation or accident; and (vii) discussion of each other's nuclear security doctrines to avoid a regional nuclear and missile arms race.

In the conventional field, Pakistan's proposals include, inter alia, the maintenance of an acceptable ratio in the armed forces of the two countries, non-acquisition of destabilizing weapons systems (such as missile defense), and an eventual agreement on the non-use of force or a non-aggression pact. We hope that it would be possible for India and Pakistan, with help from the international community to engage in serious discussion on these issues having a tremendous bearing on regional and international peace and security.

At the global level, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the risk of WMD falling in the hands of terrorists constitute another major international concern. Pakistan believes that these twin challenges must be addressed seriously and separately. Terrorists must be prevented from ever acquiring weapons of mass destruction. States which possess such weapons, or sensitive materials or technology, should exercise effective controls over them. In this context, the universal acceptance and implementation of the IAEA's Convention on Physical Safety is important. Programs to ensure protection of "loose nukes" and of inadequately protected fissile materials are useful. For its part, Pakistan has instituted firm command and control mechanisms to ensure the safety and security of our strategic assets. We are prepared to participate in the elaboration of internationally agreed measure to prevent terrorists from gaining access to WMD.

To address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, there is a need to strengthen the existing WMD regimes. Cooperative, and not coercive, approaches should be adopted for equitable non-proliferation, along with efforts to address the underlying security concerns of states which motivate them to seek WMD. There should also be incentives, apart from disincentives, for the acceptance and implementation of non-proliferation obligations. There is also a need for the nuclear weapon states to undertake good faith efforts at moving towards significant nuclear arms reductions and ultimate disarmament. The credibility and eventual success of international efforts to address these challenges depends on equitable, non-selective and non-discriminatory approaches.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we grapple with a wrenching transition in international relations, I am reminded of the vision of Adda Bozeman. We need deeper cultural understanding and a more informed discourse on peoples practicing diverse faiths and on nations in search of their destiny. But this kind of interaction will remain unproductive, if strong international institutions do not underpin it. We already have such institutions--like the United Nations--we should strengthen them, not try to undermine them.

We must realize that we are on the cusp of a new Millennium. This is a defining moment in history and we are faced with fateful choices. We must decide whether to flow with the dangerous drift that threatens confrontation and the collapse of civilization, or muster the collective will to change the course of history towards a terror-free, peaceful and cooperative global society. We and particularly our world leaders bear an enormous responsibility:

- To free our planet from war and violence, poverty and pestilence;

- To redress inequity and impoverishment which breed despair and destruction;

- To collectively construct a new global architecture of peace and prosperity for all peoples and nations.

We must turn challenge into an opportunity for ourselves and for our future generations. Clearly, the need for deeper reflection and collective action was never greater. The very survival of the world as we know it is at stake. And failure is not an option.