Govt resisted US bid to cap N-programme, says Sartaj

sartaj-aziz2-640x360ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Sunday said the US had tried to cap Pakistan’s nuclear programme but the government refused to make any compromise on this vital national interest.

In an interview with the state-run PTV, he said the Pak-US ties had witnessed an upward trajectory in the last three years, which were disturbed when the incumbent government assumed power in 2013.

He said when the PML-N government took over, it improved Pakistan’s relations with the US and resumed the suspended strategic dialogue process.

Recalling that the issue of drone strikes was linked to the previous governments, the adviser said there were 113 drone strikes in 2013, which had reduced to just three in the current year.

He said Pakistan had strongly raised the issue of drone attacks with the US by adopting a strict policy.

He said the Operation Zarb-e-Azb was in progress against all terrorists without discrimination and the terrorist infrastructure in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) had been completely destroyed.

He said Pakistan was not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and that the approach had won global appreciation.

“Pakistan has a very effective role in the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Besides, it is also going to play a role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).”

Sartaj emphasized that Pakistan wanted cordial relations with India, with focus on all issues during the dialogue.

Talking about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said the project was based on three dimensions — speedy implementation, security and political opposition.

He said a security division, comprising 12,000 personnel, had been raised for the CPEC projects while the government was trying to build political consensus on the project at the local and international level.

He asserted that the country’s foreign policy to achieve economic stability and trade growth through vast regional connectivity had met success during the last two years.

He said under the global realignment policies, Pakistan had increased its trade and energy connectivity in the region thus assuming the epi-centre of colossal economic activities, which would transform the facade of entire region.

He defended the government’s foreign policy, saying that the country’s profile with regard to enhancement of its ties with the Central Asian Republics, China, Europe and Islamic countries had witnessed a marked improvement.

“Our brotherly and friendly ties with the Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, have enhanced. We have been maintaining a balanced policy and our role is very constructive,” he added.