South Asia

Pakistan’s New Security Policy Seeks ‘Peace’ With India: Report

The policy leaves the door open for trade with New Delhi even without the settlement of the Kashmir issue – provided there is headway in bilateral talks, according to a report by a Pakistan newspaper.

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New Delhi: Pakistan is willing to make peace with India and other immediate neighbours under its first National Security Policy that leaves the door open for trade with New Delhi even without the settlement of the Kashmir issue – provided there is headway in bilateral talks, according to a report by a Pakistan newspaper.

The National Security Policy, separately endorsed by the country’s National Security Committee and the Cabinet last month, is scheduled to be formally unveiled by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday.

Peace with immediate neighbours and economic diplomacy will be the central theme of Pakistan’s foreign policy under the new National Security Policy, the Express Tribune newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The five-year-policy document, which will span 2022-26, is being touted by the Pakistan government as the country’s first-ever strategy paper of its kind, spelling out the national security vision and guidelines for the attainment of those goals.

The original 100-page policy, which will be kept under wraps, leaves the door open for trade and business ties with India without the final settlement of the longstanding Kashmir dispute, provided there is progress in the talks between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, an official was quoted as saying by the paper.

“We are not seeking hostility with India for the next 100 years. The new policy seeks peace with immediate neighbours,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

If there is dialogue and progress, there would be a possibility of normalising trade and commercial ties with India as it had happened in the past, the official added.

However, the official told the Express Tribune that there were “no prospects of rapprochement” with India under the Narendra Modi government.

Ties between the two countries nose-dived after a terror attack on India’s Pathankot Air Force base in 2016 by terror groups based in Pakistan. Subsequent attacks, including one on an Indian Army camp in Uri, further deteriorated the relationship.

The relationship dipped further after India’s warplanes conducted an airstrike on an alleged terror camp deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack, in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed. Pakistani aircraft intruded Indian airspace the next day but did not attack any targets.

The relations deteriorated after India withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

A surprise ceasefire agreement was announced in February last year, but reports of firing continue at regular intervals.

India has told Pakistan that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Islamabad in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence.

As the new national security policy seeks a shift in Pakistan’s approach from geo-strategic to geo-economics, there is a renewed optimism of a possible thaw with India, the Express Tribune report said.

“Economic security will be the central theme of the new national security policy,” the official told the newspaper.

“But geo-economics does not necessarily mean we overlook our geo-strategic and geo-political interests,” the official said, adding the Kashmir dispute has been identified as a ‘vital national policy’ issue for Pakistan.

The official said this would be the first-ever codified national security policy that would cover both internal security as well as foreign policy.

“Only a part of the national security policy will be made public,” the official clarified, saying in the rest of the world such policies often remained classified.

The official said though Pakistan did have defence, foreign and internal policies, the new policy would act as an “umbrella document” providing direction for the future.

When asked to comment on the implementation of the policy, the official said the classified document lays out a complete implementation mechanism and the prime minister will review the progress on a monthly basis.

The policy will be reviewed every year and at the time of change of government, the official said, adding the issue of political stability was also taken care of in it.

Pakistan has a chequered history with no elected prime minister completing their five-year term.

The new policy also deals with the issue of militant and dissident groups and advocates dialogue with ‘reconcilable elements.’

On the internal front, the new policy identifies five key areas of population/migration, health, climate and water, food security and gender mainstreaming, according to the report.

(With PTI inputs)