FM says dialogue only way to ensure regional peace, stability

September 24, 2018

WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan firmly believes that the dialogue is the only way forward to ensure peace and stability in the region, and underscored that the new government will do what is in the best interest of Pakistan.

“Our policy is Pakistan, Pakistan and Pakistan,” said the Foreign Minister ahead of his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 29, where he is expected to highlight Islamabad’s principled stand on regional peace and stability, including peace in Afghanistan and the long-running Kashmir dispute.

Briefing newsmen at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, Foreign Minister Qureshi talked about the ongoing discussion between Pakistan and the United States to improve their “fractured” ties as well as relations with India and efforts for peace in war-torn Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Qureshi will meet his US counterpart Mike Pompeo in Washington on October 2 at the invitation the US Secretary of State extended during his recent visit to Pakistan to what he described as efforts to “reset” relations between the two countries. “We will have a very candid and frank discussion,” he added.

Referring to the recent tension in Pak-US relations, the foreign minister said that bilateral ties had recently been fractured, however, Pakistan intends to continue its engagement with the US and manage the relationship by concentrating on points of convergence.

He emphasized that Pakistan wanted to have relations with the US based on mutual respect and mutual interests.

Replying to a question regarding future of Pak-India relations, Foreign Minister Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s principled position of being open to dialogue and said that Islamabad firmly believes that it’s the only way forward to ensure regional peace and stability.

On the cancellation of his proposed meeting with his Indian counterpart on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the Minister said that New Delhi first announced and then cancelled the meeting to divert attention from the domestic problems. He regretted the undiplomatic language used to cancel the meeting.

The Minister said that Pakistan desires peace with India and has a positive thinking, but made it clear that the country was fully prepared to address any aggression. He said that Pakistan desired peace while Indian wanted to avoid it.

Replying to a question on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its impact on ties with the US, the Minister said that relations with China was very important for Pakistan, which is a time-tested friend of the country. He said that China has always helped Pakistan during difficult times.

But, he added, relations with the United States was equally important for Pakistan and China has no issue with that.

On media reports that the US was considering to resume reimbursement of funds to Pakistan, the Minister said that he would not like to comment unless hear anything official from the Trump administration.

Responding to a question on Afghanistan, the Minister said that peace in Afghanistan was in interest of Pakistan.

He said that Islamabad has always played a positive role in this regard. He, however, underlined that there should be an inclusive approach in order to evolve a lasting political solution to the Afghanistan conflict.

Qureshi said that Pakistan has a very positive approach and the country has made most sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. Pakistan has played an important role in degrading al-Qaeda and securing the United States from terrorism threats, he added.

Responding to a question on Kashmir, Minister Qureshi said that everyone who was fighting a struggle for their right to self-determination was a freedom fighter. He said that there were now voices from within India, including people such as Omer Abdullah, that there has to be a solution to the Kashmir issue.

The Minister referred to a recent report by the United Nations, which highlighted the human rights violation in Kashmir at the hands of Indian security forces and said these must end.

To a question about a recent arms deal India had with France, the Minister said that India should move away from policy of confrontation and instead focus on the welfare of its people and poor who were living below the poverty line.

On the recent visit by the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia and UAE, Foreign Minister Qureshi described them as very successful and said that the visits helped to remove any misunderstandings with the brotherly Islamic countries.

The Minister said the two countries have expressed their desire to invest in Pakistan and, before his visit to Washington, he wrote letters to the governments of Saudi Arabia and UAE to highlight areas for investment.

Earlier, the Minister addressed a gathering of Pakistani American community and spoke about the priorities of the new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said that despite the fact that the country was mired in challenges, the government would do its best to come up to the peoples’ expectation and those of the overseas Pakistanis.

He said that the government wants accountability across the board and not the political victimization. “We would encourage exports and will formulate policies to encourage investment in broad sectors of the economy,” he added. NNI

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