Pakistan Foreign Minister: Main Enemy is Insurgents, Not India

Foreign Minister Qureshi makes urgent appeal for more aid for flood victims

ByABC News
August 18, 2010, 6:45 PM

August 18, 2010— -- In an interview with "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi states that extremism is a greater threat to Pakistan than neighboring India.

"Before the floods, we were focused on fighting the extremists and the insurgents within Pakistan," said Qureshi. "As far as India is concerned, yes, we have outstanding issues with India, and both sides have agreed that we can settle them through peaceful negotiations."

The Foreign Minister's comments come after news reports that Pakistan's chief spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), stated that for the first time in over 60 years, India was not considered the country's greatest threat.

"The immediate challenge is extremism, terrorism," Qureshi told Amanpour, acknowledging that the victims of the floods in Pakistan must be a top priority as well.

Despite the long-standing tensions between India and Pakistan, Qureshi claims that India has offered aid for Pakistani relief efforts.

"The foreign minister called me and he spoke to me and they've offered assistance," said Qureshi. "The political leadership is considering it."

The foreign minister insisted that Pakistan was not looking for contributions of Indian personnel, but they would welcome aid in this time of need. Qureshi described a relationship of ongoing support between the two countries despite the diplomatic and military tensions.

As these devastating floods further weaken vulnerable regions of Pakistan, the potential exists for the Taliban to capitalize on the desperation of the Pakistanis.

"We need help now," said Foreign Minister Qureshi. "Do it urgently so that people who want to create instability are not given the room to do so."

"Do you have any evidence that the Taliban or other militant groups are sort of preparing for any kind of major offensive right now, taking advantage of the situation?" Amanpour asked.