ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi Saturday said that rather than becoming a part of any bloc or any conflict, Pakistan had consciously chosen to be only a partner for peace and development.
“We are positioning Pakistan as an economic hub, a melting pot for positive global interests. Centered on economic security, our focus remains on enhancing connectivity, development partnerships, and peace within our borders and beyond,” the foreign minister was delivering his keynote speech at the second edition of Islamabad Security Dialogue.
The foreign minister said Pakistan was a responsible country striving for peace, prosperity and connectivity in the region. In principle, Pakistan was also ready to consider East-West connectivity to help address challenges of poverty and underdevelopment in South Asia.
“For that, we obviously need a willing partner that demonstrates good faith, and is committed to creating an enabling environment for meaningful engagement. Unfortunately, we face a toxic mix in India: an extremist ideological regime, which thrives on anti-Muslim hate and hostility with Pakistan, and will do anything to retain its predominantly Hindu electoral support base,” he added.
Qureshi said the recent firing of a supersonic missile by India into Pakistan’s territory reflected India’s disregard for aviation safety as well as regional peace and stability.
“This incident is consistent with India’s irresponsible conduct. It must be addressed by the international community, including the UN Security Council. Despite provocations, Pakistan continues to act with maximum restraint and responsibility,” he added.
The foreign minister said it was evident that durable peace, security and development in the region hinged on a peaceful and just resolution of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), accompanied by unabated repression of Kashmiris, had seriously undermined the prospects of peace, he added.
The foreign minister reiterated that India must halt violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in IIOJK; reverse its unilateral and illegal actions including the demographic changes in the occupied territory; and implement the UN Security Council resolutions which guarantee the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices.
“India must also rethink its policy of fomenting destabilization in Pakistan and embrace a progressive agenda that can benefit the entire region. The onus remains on India to create an enabling environment,” he added.
The foreign minister said Pakistan was committed to peaceful co-existence and cooperative multilateralism for win-win outcomes. Pakistan’s outlook and trajectory were fundamentally transformed.
“While confident of our security and defence capabilities, our priorities are increased trade, investment, energy security, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges. Pakistan will continue to support an equitable and inclusive global order, where no one is left behind. We strive for a world of peace, progress and prosperity, in which benefits of development are shared by all,” he added.
The foreign minister further said the challenges and security dilemmas faced by Pakistan today were concomitant to global and regional undercurrents. Pakistani leadership’s vision of Naya Pakistan had been focused around economic security and the welfare and well-being of our people.
“In order to focus on these priorities, Pakistan desires peace, security and strategic stability. Pakistan wants to move away from the acrimony and toxicity of the past. We want to move ahead, into a new era of peace and prosperity, and bring the dividends of economic growth and development to our people. In line with our emphasis on shifting from geo-politics to geo-economics, we are advocating peaceful co-existence and win-win cooperation,” he opined.
The foreign minister further observed that Pakistan’s location made it a natural hub for economic confluence for competing states.
The foreign ministry was actively pursuing these objectives through various tools of diplomacy such as economic diplomacy, public diplomacy, digital diplomacy and science diplomacy.
“We are determined to build partnerships beyond our traditional associations. Outreach to Africa has been intensified and our relationships with ASEAN, EU and others are being qualitatively upgraded,” he added.
Qureshi said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the hallmark of Pakistan’s All-weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership with China, was contributing to Pakistan’s economic turnaround, in addition to promoting regional connectivity and prosperity.
“We envision Pakistan emerging as the gateway to Western China, Afghanistan and Central Asia. We are endeavouring to reap the peace dividends in Afghanistan in the form of enhanced connectivity and trade,” he added.
The recent events in Ukraine reflected a failure of diplomacy, he said, adding Pakistan believed that all efforts must be made for the immediate cessation of hostilities to avoid further loss of life, and to address the humanitarian situation.
“The current situation is posing an unprecedented threat to international peace and security, and global economic stability. Prices of energy and food commodities in the international market have skyrocketed. Supply chains have been disrupted to the detriment of developing countries,” he added.
Qureshi said Pakistan maintained a principled and non-partisan position on the matter.
“We have consistently emphasized the fundamental principles of the UN Charter including non-use and threat of use of force; respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states; and pacific settlement of disputes. We have also reached out and maintained contact with all sides. Pakistan has also sent humanitarian assistant to Ukraine – country with which we have our friendly and cooperative relations,” he further said.
He stressed that a diplomatic solution through dialogue and negotiations was indispensable – and must be pursued as a matter of priority.
After 40 years, Qureshi said there was no internal war in Afghanistan and one government controlled the entire country. This presented unique opportunity to stabilize Afghanistan and build sustainable peace.
The international community can achieve that by engaging with the Afghan authorities; unfreezing Afghanistan’s financial reserves; and reviving reconstruction and sustainable development of Afghanistan, he stressed.
The foreign minister said “It is imperative that international assistance to Afghanistan is scaled up, to help address the humanitarian and economic crises faced by the Afghan people and contribute to their socio-economic wellbeing. It is also incumbent on the Afghan authorities to positively respond to the expectations of the international community with regard to inclusivity, human rights including women rights and girl’s education, and the threat of terrorism.”
He reiterated that Pakistan would continue its efforts in support of the fraternal Afghan people as part of their commitment to a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.