Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has advocated engagement with other countries, especially India and the United States. In his first major foreign policy speech since taking office in April, he touched upon the country’s major relationships and questioned the conduct of foreign policy in the past. Speaking at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, a government-funded think tank, the minister said the coalition government had inherited an “internationally isolated and internationally disengaged” country. The earlier government led by Imran Khan had downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi after the Indian government revoked Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 and bifurcated the state into two union territories. Bilawal argued that despite a “long history of war and conflict”, it was not in Pakistan’s interest to remain disengaged. “Do we achieve our objectives, whatever they may be; be it Kashmir, be it the rising Islamophobia… Does it serve our objective,” he asked, adding that “we have practically cut off all engagement” with India. The foreign minister contended that if Pakistan had achieved economic engagement with India in the past, it would have been in a better position to influence Delhi’s policy.
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