WASHINGTON, Jul 25 (APP): Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani said Washington is beginning to understand Pakistan’s security imperatives in the regional context as he underscored the centrality of longstanding Kashmir dispute to South Asian peace and stability. Speaking at a dinner hosted in honor of participants of an international peace conference Friday, the envoy said the lingering conflict over Kashmir affects dynamics and process of peace in the region.
“The standstill over Kashmir has affected lives of people in the region for over six decades-
—whether it is the dynamic between Pakistan and Afghanistan whether it is the feeling of India’s intransigence, which is shared by several South Asian countries, all of that can be traced back to the unresolved question of Kashmir.”
Haqqani said Islamabad desires peace in the region and understands the need for overcoming various negative feelings to help (push) Pakistan-India dialogue.
“Pakistan has been ready to engage in (sincere) dialogue with India –– but Pakistan cannot conduct a dialogue at the expense of its sovereignty, justice and honor,” he told the gathering including President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Raja Zulqarnain Khan, Pakistani lawmakers and U.S., British and Kashmiri experts.
Pakistan’s neighbors should not have an unrealistic expectation of what they can make Pakistan do just as the people of Pakistan also need to understand the situation, he added.
But he made it clear that “what Pakistan can and cannot do depends largely on our security environment, our security perception as well as the reality of our people viewing the situation.”
He told the gathering that the United States and Pakistan are strategic partners but “this is a strategic partnership that is work in progress.”
In the past, neither country understood the value of this partnership, he remarked.
“If we can continue to establish and lay the foundations of building a long-term multi-dimensional strategic partnership, then more and more people in the United States will understand Pakistan, and once they understand Pakistan, they will also understand our concern over issues such as Jammu and Kashmir.”
The diplomat said Pakistan is moving forward as a democracy with tremendous mutual tolerance and acceptance among its political forces as reflected by the presence of representatives of all leading parties at the country’s embassy.
Pakistan believes South Asia holds enormous potential for progress and the spirit of cooperation will define the future of the region, once the underlying cause of tension “Kashmir” is resolved, Haqqani stated.
“The U.S. and Pakistan, and India and Pakistan and Afghanistan and Pakistan are all going to be able to move forward as stable democracies
– if the people of Jammu and Kashmir can have their democratic and fundamental human rights, the major causus belli in our relations will be removed and we will be able to move forward even in our relationships with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”