US-led NATO forces engage Pakistani troops at two Pakistani military check posts along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border leaving 24 Pakistani soldiers dead. The Pakistani response is swift and angry. It closes all supply routes for NATO into Afghanistan, plunging relations with the US to a new low. Hina Rabbani Khar, the country’s new foreign minister, demands an American apology as a condition for reopening the supply lines. After months of wrangling, she gets her apology from Hillary Clinton.
The incident illustrates the high stakes and complexities for those managing the foreign policy of Pakistan. And as it straddles geo-political fault lines stretching from Moscow to Beijing and from Tehran to Washington, Hina Rabbani Khar, the Pakistani foreign minister, is at the centre of it all.
She does not hide the fact that other capitals around the world are just as important to her as Washington DC. Khar says she wants better relations with Iran, that it is “always a delight to meet with the Russians” and that it is time to stop fighting and start building with New Delhi.
“We are more concerned about what is in the long-term and medium-term interests for Pakistan than we are about what is popular,” she says. “Instead of typically undermining the importance of the democratic process and what we are trying to achieve in Pakistan we should try and recognise, if not celebrate, the change that is taking place in Pakistan.”
So we decided to sit down with Pakistan’s foreign minister to discuss how she now intends to move her country’s foreign policy forward. But we begin with her tough response to the NATO incident that killed so many Pakistani soldiers, and the degree to which she is really prepared to push the US to protect Pakistani interests – especially as American drone attacks in her country are still ongoing.
|This episode of Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen on Al Jazeera English at the following times GMT: Saturday, August 11: 0430; Sunday, August 12: 0830, 1930; and Monday, August 13: 1430.|