Building trust by reversing the “negative narrative” of six decades is the key to resolve core issues with India, including Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said, pointing out that efforts to normalise trade was a step in that direction.
In her address to a prominent American think tank in Washington, Ms Khar said this is what Pakistan’s civilian government has been trying to do single-mindedly for the last four years.
“One thing is clear that we would not be able to achieve peace within if we are not able to find peace on our borders with our neighbours. Therefore the (need to) change in mindset of an approach to a neighbour with which we particularly had hostile relations,” Ms Khar told a select audience at the Council on Foreign Relations.
She said both India and Pakistan had, over 65 years, built a “hostile negative narrative” of each other and efforts to resolve major issues of Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek need to begin with changing that mindset.
“The core issue of Jammu and Kashmir is a serious problem. It is not anyone’s figment of imagination. The territorial disputes on Siachen, on Sir Creek are also serious problems”.
“However what is the way that we are able to solve those problems? Is it through war? Is it through creating a narrative of more hostility, animosity and filtering minds of our next generation with the same narrative which we did with the previous generation. I think the answer to that is clear and simple no,” Ms Khar said.
“The way to solve these issues is by building trust, is by changing the mindset, is by building enough trust to be able to sit across the table and talk through these issues and find lasting solutions,” she said.
Ms Khar said Pakistan’s government had over the last four years single-mindedly pursued a track of reaching out to India. Reversing a 40-year-old trade policy and giving India an MFN status was an important message.
“I will not underestimate the importance of finding lasting solution because until and unless we are able to find lasting solution to these issues that we have with India, we will not be able to disarm... ” she said.
“This government was able to send a message that we will normalise trade with India. We will normalise trade with India because it is important for economic integration and create an environment of investment in each of these countries”.
“Even more importantly, it is important that we have to invest in building stake holders in each other’s future because we have to start looking at ourselves from regional lens and not separate lenses,” the Foreign Minister said in her only public speaking engagement in Washington.