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News Analysis |

Foreign Minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif has said that his ministry does not control the foreign policy of the country. The enunciation was made on Wednesday while winding up the discussion on Rex Tillerson’s visit to Pakistan and the new South Asia policy.

Read more: Khawaja Asif expects India and Pakistan to respect Indus Water Treaty

Asif, 67, said that different institutions are shaping up the country’s foreign policy adding that no single entity was in charge of foreign affairs. Asif’s comments about how “reckless U.S. generals” have contributed in shaping up a faulty Afghan policy drew a sharp reaction from Senator Farhatullah Babar. While criticizing Asif, he asked him to apply the same in Pakistan. Asif, who hails from the border city of Sialkot said:” I agree that it should be so.”

Sources have confirmed that ousted premier Nawaz Sharif has turned down suggestions of avoiding a clash with the state institutions.

Watchers of Civil-Military-relations (CMR) have asserted that foreign and security policies are controlled by Rawalpindi instead of Islamabad. Critics of the military establishment have always pointed out how the generals stamp their authority in foreign relations. However, evidently, things have changed and there is a great deal of unison in taking foreign policy decision through the National Security Committee, which has remained pretty functional after the announcement of the new South Asia policy.

Asif, known for his blunt and heated remarks, ever since taking charge of the foreign ministry has twice visited the US, robustly opposing the US policy in Afghanistan while warning against his scapegoating his country. His talk at the Asia Society on terrorism, while drawing fury was appreciated by a section of the media that is averse to the country’s security policies. Asif himself spoke about how Pakistan’s civil and military leadership gave a joint response to the US, especially by meeting Rex Tillerson together as a delegation.

Read more: Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: A tale of fear and resistance to change…

Though the sudden reference to other forces controlling foreign policy is a tad misplaced, it is something that the military has been picked up on. According to observers, Asif is considered as one of the hawks in the ruling party. His cavalier style has often led to altercations with political opponents. Watchers assess that the statement fits in well with the seemingly obvious strategy of the PML-N to wriggle out of the crisis it is in.

Asif, 67, said that different institutions are shaping up the country’s foreign policy adding that no single entity was in charge of foreign affairs.

Sources have confirmed that ousted premier Nawaz Sharif has turned down suggestions of avoiding a clash with the state institutions. This is primarily because experts believe that his legal options have dried up.

The timings of Khawaja Asif’s statement coincides with the mounting trouble for the Sharif family. Is it an attempt to stir up the conspiracy narrative? Is it an effort to pass the buck at a time when the US is ramping up its pressure on Pakistan? Many have stressed that the Sharifs may invoke international attention by playing up their inability to “rein-in” the boys from Rawalpindi. Perhaps, it is noteworthy to mention that pundits are concerned about the brewing storm which can be a consequence of confrontational politics. Watchers are, however, intrigued as to why a powerless minister should be in charge of an important ministry if he is not in control.

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