Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan and Indonesia will work closely to fight terrorism and promote interfaith dialogue in an attempt to portray the peaceful and friendly face of Islam.
He said both countries have also committed to expand relations in the economic, political and defence sectors while uniting their position to respond to regional and global issues, such as climatic change and maritime security.
After talks with his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa on Friday and Saturday, Shah Mahmood Qureshi told The Jakarta Post in an interview that many parts of the world still clung to a distorted image of Islam that gave both countries a bad name.
“We both express interests of promoting interfaith dialogue so that we can project the right image of Islam, not the distorted version that gives Islam and our countries a bad name,” Qureshi, who also paid a courtesy call on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on
Qureshi said Indonesia and Pakistan formed a joint working group on counter-terrorism, with officials from both countries scheduled to meet next month in Jakarta to help eradicate terrorism.
Pakistan will also attend the Bali Democracy Forum, an international dialogue among democratic countries that is growing in prominence, with both United States President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard acknowledging it recently as an important gathering to reduce tension among nations.
During his meetings with Marty and Yudhoyono, Qureshi also received Indonesia’s full support for Pakistan to become a full dialogue partner to ASEAN, joining the region’s other major nations such as China, Japan, South Korea, India and Australia.
He said by becoming a full dialogue partner of the 10-member group, Pakistan could become part of the vibrant community of East Asia, a region that has become a source of global economic growth, with even the US and Russia recently taking part.
At the bilateral level, Pakistan has become Indonesia’s partner in a wide range of areas, including trade and agriculture while a defence cooperation agreement was signed last July.
“During our meetings, we looked at different ways of expanding economic cooperation,” Qureshi said.
He added that one example was the plantation and agriculture cooperation through which Pakistan could import palm oil while Indonesia could purchase rice.
“Indonesia is the biggest producer of palm oil while we have a surplus of rice. So we can purchase palm oil while Indonesia imports rice as we know Indonesia is building a buffer stock of rice,” he said.
On resolving the conflict in Afghanistan, Qureshi said his country was committed to finding the best solution to the problem, including supporting the efforts by the Afghan government to engage the Taliban in a dialogue.
“The world has acknowledged the sacrifice by Pakistan to create a stable Afghanistan. Pakistan is very supportive of a reconciliation process and reintegration of Afghanistan. There have been very positive developments so far. The international community also acknowledges Pakistan’s idea of regional outlook on issues surrounding Afghanistan,” he said.
Qureshi said Indonesia could play a greater role in Afghanistan and the Middle East through deeper involvement within Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), of which both countries are members.
“There is a growing view that the OIC can play a greater role in those issues and Indonesia is a very important member of the OIC,” he added.