I just got off of the phone with the press officer for the Pakistan High Commission here in Ottawa after asking for Pakistan’s response (if any) to Mr. Dion’s comments regarding his proposal that NATO expands their mission into Pakistan.
Here is the official release:
We are dismayed by the statement of the leader of opposition, Mr. Stephane Dion about NATO intervention in Pakistan. It shows a lack of understanding of the ground realities. We have, at the highest level, made it clear that Pakistan will not allow any foreign forces to operate within its territory under any circumstances. The sovereignty of the state will not be compromised at any level as the government and people of Pakistan are fully capable of handling their security matters themselves.
Pakistan is a peace-loving country and has joined the international community in the war against terrorism as an equal partner. The contribution made by Pakistan in this regard has been recognized throughout the world.
The price paid by Pakistan being a frontline state cannot be undermined by certain irrational comments.
Pakistan has been saying all along that the problem lies inside Afghanistan and the solution should come from there too. It is because of the security situation there that Pakistan is facing heat across the border.
Dion needs to tell Canada, Afghanistan, Pakistan and our NATO allies if he maintains his position of NATO escalation into Pakistan, or if he is simply ignorant of foreign policy and whether that ignorance lies within his understanding of what NATO is, or that Pakistan is a sovereign nation, or that NATO is in Afghanistan (and not Pakistan) with the blessing of the UN. I hope that he is not clueless on all of these facts.
UPDATE: The Liberals have clarified that this is not what their leader meant. So, he’s just ignorant of foreign policy.
UPDATE: This isn’t good. The following was printed in The Daily Times (Pakistan) (h/t catherine in the comments):
Dion, a leader of the Liberal Party likely to win the elections this year, said NATO could be forced to take action inside Pakistan if President Pervez Musharraf’s government failed to stop the movement of terrorists to Afghanistan.
I’m not concerned that they think Harper will lose the upcoming election (we’ve got a better vantage point here in Canada). I’m concerned that they think that Dion will be Prime Minister and that this would be the policy of a future Canadian government. I think that Dion ought to emphasize his position himself, with clarity. It’s that important.
UPDATE 1/18: Dion, in his own words calls for “diplomatic intervention”. CBC reports that Dion moved to distance himself from the suggestion that NATO should be deployed in Pakistan.
FURTHER READING FROM ST.CA: Previous Post – Will Stephane Dion make military decisions someday?