Pakistan has been long lobbying Asean countries to admit it into the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) – a security forum consisting of Asean nations, China, Japan, India and others.
Indonesia’s foreign ministry has announced that India has dropped its objections to admitting Pakistan after the country promised not to raise bilateral (read Kashmir) issues at the forum. Given Pakistan’s propensity to lapse into its Kashmir rhetoric at every opportunity, this looks like a promise hard to make or accept. There is no independent confirmation from India that this indeed is the case. Pakistan’s foreign policy is still heavily centered around India, specifically on Kashmir. Admitting it into the ARF prematurely may be a decision both Indian and other ARF nations will come to regret.
The ARF includes ASEAN members plus India, Australia, Canada, China, the European Union (EU), Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, North Korea, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Russia and the United States. The aims and purposes of the Association are: (i) to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations, and (ii) to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.[PakNews]