Kakar calls for an “immediate” cessation of hostilities in the enclave, where Israel has continued incessant attacks
Bahtiyar Abdulkerimov and Muhammet Nazim Tasci
Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar has warned of a “spillover effect” of the “catastrophic” situation in Gaza, which can go beyond the region.
“An unfolding human tragedy is being witnessed in the region. And it will have a spillover effect, not just in the region but probably beyond the region,” Kakar said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu on the sidelines of 16th Economic Cooperation Organization summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Thursday.
Kakar called for an “immediate” cessation of hostilities in the enclave, where Israel has continued incessant attacks since the Oct. 7 Hamas offensive, and establishment of a human corridor for uninterrupted supply of food, medicines and other essential items.
He said Islamabad is looking forward to attending a forthcoming special session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, adding that the body should deliberate upon the situation, and come up with a “collective response.”
Defending Islamabad’s move to deport undocumented Afghan refugees, Kakar said his country took the decision a “bit late,” but is “quite” determined to “have a regulated movement” across the border.
“Illegal immigration has never been encouraged by any country anywhere in the world … So why is Pakistan exclusively treated that it should treat the [undocumented] Afghan nationals otherwise,” he said.
“Every country wants to have a regulated movement with other countries’ citizens … In the long run it will be in the best interest of Afghan citizens and Pakistanis to have a normal, regulated movement like the rest of the world.”
Türkiye-Pakistan relations ‘fabulous’
The prime minister called for enhanced “coordination and cooperation” between Türkiye and Pakistan, dubbing the bilateral relations as “fabulous.”
He said there are many areas such as trade, agriculture and defense in which relations can be improved. “But that (cooperation) can be enhanced and upgraded. And some opportunities, even developing corridors, where the connectivity issue between Türkiye, Pakistan and Iran can be revived, which will offer many opportunities to all the nations and the whole region.”
About the multibillion dollar four-nation energy corridor, involving Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (TAPI), the premier said despite an alleged disinterest from New Delhi, Islamabad is focused to reap the benefits of the long-pending project.
“On TAPI, there is a lot of enthusiasm from Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It can ensure cheap and sustainable supply of energy to the Indian economy. But if they choose to remain out of the benefit of this whole arrangement, they still can do it,” Kakar said.
“But my own understanding is that with or without India, the Turkmen gas can be exploited for the economic benefit of this region, and we are very much focused to achieve that target.”
The $7 billion project aims to bring natural gas from the Gylkynish and adjacent gas fields in Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
The Asian Development Bank is facilitating and coordinating the project, which is proposed to lay a 56-inch diameter 1,680-kilometer (1,044-mile) pipeline with a design capacity of 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas per annum from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan up to Indo-Pak border.
Talking about Pakistan’s long-strained relations with longtime rival India, Kakar reiterated that the simmering Kashmir dispute has to be “addressed and resolved” for normalization of ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
“Kashmir is an outstanding issue between India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s traditional position is that it should be resolved in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions,” he said.
“They (Kashmiris) have got every right to determine their future, their destiny … and Pakistan would always stand, diplomatically and politically, to support that stance.”
According to Kakar, there has been a realization “on all fronts” that the Kashmir dispute has to be “addressed and resolved if there has to be normalization of relations” between the two countries.
He said finding the answer to “when” and “how” the relations could be normalized is “definitely” a challenge for every section of the society including the leadership, intelligentsia, entrepreneurs and the civil society of the two countries.
But, he added, there has to be normalization if the region has to “mutually benefit from one another.”
Kakar said he is an “optimistic individual” and “there is always a hope whenever there are challenging situations,” like India-Pakistan ties.
“We have had a checkered history … we have fought three wars. But can a population of two billion people stay in a perpetual” state of war? He said, referring to the armed conflicts, two of them over Kashmir, between the two countries since 1947.
*Writing by Aamir Latif in Karachi, Pakistan
Courtesy: Anadolu Agency (Posted on 09.11.2023)