Pakistan’s former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani has said Pakistan must change its approach to the Kashmir issue, the Economic Times reported.

He made the statement while delivering a lecture titled ‘Pakistan, Afghanistan and a history of mistrust” at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House.

Mr Haqqani urged the political leadership to give up the “ideological obsession” with Kashmir stating they no longer enjoy the support of the international community in this regard.

He called for the need of a “decisive shift” in Pakistan’s approach to the issue.

“Pakistan needs to have the kind of approach China has over Taiwan. It doesn’t need to give up its claim but it needs to move on other issues first,” Haqqani said

He stressed on the need for Pakistan to refocus its efforts towards internal affairs, saying “we need to take a more pragmatic approach …”

He called India “an imaginary threat” during his lecture, alleging that rhetoric rather than reality is the basis of enmity between the two neighbours, adding:

“Parity with India is not an attainable objective, as quite simply size matters. India’s economy is 10 times larger. It is a kind of psychological and political insecurity that has held Pakistan back. The best strategy would be to focus inward.”

Mr Haqqani has been a vocal critic of military intervention in Pakistani politics in the past while serving as Pakistan’s ambassador to US between 2008 and 2011.

Stumbling blocks in Pak-India relationship

Although he said he was pleased to hear about the FO-level talks between Pakistan and India on Tuesday, he was quick to add that “the fundamentals of the relationship are yet to be addressed.”

Cases like the treatment of the accused Mumbai-attack planner, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi will remain a bone of contention in any future meaningful dialogue.

Similarly, the treatment of Jamat ud Dawa (JuD) in Pakistan will not help matters either. India and the United States have long been demanding that JuD chief Hafiz Saeed be taken to task for his alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

However, he remained positive that the political impasse can be overcome, stating “Pakistan is part of the international community that has agreed that terrorism is not acceptable. So there are several aspects where responsibility can be fixed.”

Indian presence in Afghanistan

During the lecture, he recalled the time Osama bin Laden was shot in Pakistan while he was serving as the Pakistani ambassador to US. He was quick to accept responsibility pointing that Pakistan owes “an explanation to the world…”

Pakistan has long been critical of Indian presence in Afghanistan but Haqqani believes it is entirely based on trade, aid and education ties. These are not inherently dangerous for Pakistan and the two countries can further improve their relations by working together in Afghanistan.

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