Khawaja Muhammad Asif : India-Pakistan conflict taints Swiss honorary doctorate ceremony

Foreign minister
Pakistan’s foreign minister was not diplomatic about India in his acceptance speech

(Geneva School of Diplomacy)

While accepting an honorary doctorate from the Geneva School of Diplomacy, Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif called India a sponsor of terrorism, stoking long-standing mistrust between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

In his acceptance speechexternal link at the private institution on Tuesday, he first referred to positive relations Pakistan has with China and Russia. India, however, was criticised for contributing to regional tensions.

“This positivity is counterbalanced by India’s policy to pressurise Pakistan by sponsoring terrorism and separatism inside Pakistan by unprovoked firing on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Asif. “India also maintains direct military pressure on Pakistan through deployment of advanced weapon systems and defensive troops positioning”.

The foreign minister also slammed India for “openly opposing Pakistan-China economic corridor with no reason but to obstruct Pakistan’s economic development”.

China had announced plans to invest $46 billion (CHF45.4 billion) by 2030 in an economic corridor between Pakistan’s Gwadar port and China’s Xinjiang region. This will involve creating a network of highways, railways and pipelines to transport oil and gas. The plan is opposed by Balochi separatists – accused by Pakistan of being backed by India – in the region who see the move as an attempt to enrich the government and divert wealth away from the province.

Asif was also against India gaining a seat on the United Nations Security Council through “self-election” via the G4 partnership – comprising India, Brazil, Germany and Japan that support each other’s bids for a permanent seat on the Security Council.

“It will only expand the coterie of power and isolate other countries,” he said.

The Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations awarded Asif the honorary doctorate in international relations for his “contribution to domestic and regional peace and stability” as foreign minister and for “reduction of energy poverty and chronic blackouts” when he was the minister of power.

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