In unequivocal terms, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared on Wednesday that Pakistan’s desire for peace and friendly relations in the region must not be construed as its weakness.
Addressing the concluding session of a three-day envoys’ conference, which was attended by Pakistan’s ambassadors from nine world capitals and multilateral institutions, the Prime Minister emphasised the need for finding a peaceful and debatable solution to outstanding issues in the region, adding “we cannot afford any conflict”.
“If we indulged in any conflict, it would stop the pace of economic and social development. We desire peace in the whole world but with mutual respect, dignity and equality.
Our efforts for having friendly relations must not be construed as our weakness”, he said, adding solution to outstanding disputes is imperative for durable peace and prosperity in the region.
He said Pakistan believes in the policy of non interference, mutual interests and respect of sovereignty of other countries, adding there are issues on which Pakistan has concerns and it expects other countries to take care of them.
He said other countries might also have legitimate concerns and we will have to understand them. The Prime Minister told the envoys about foreign policy challenges and emphasised the need for addressing these without any further loss of time, adding we have to pull the country out of the darkness of terrorism and bring it towards stability and an enlightened environment.
He asserted that today’s Pakistan is a better place to attract foreign investment and in this regard our envoys have a responsibility on their shoulders to project the country’s positive image abroad.
“Now presenting the case of Pakistan before the world has become an easy job. You can present the concept of Pakistan with more confidence now and divert attention of the world community towards a future which offers not only economic development but also protection to their investment,” he told the envoys.
He urged the ambassadors to introduce a positive image of Pakistan to the outside world and to introduce Pakistan as an emerging market in the world which is far more stronger and stable than ever before.
He said Pakistan has the required infrastructure and offers incentives which are necessary to attract the foreign investment.
He said the Ambassadors should take promotion of investment in the country as their mission and it will also be test of their economic diplomacy.
Regarding relations with China, the Prime Minister said they have strengthened with the passage of time, adding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will prove to be a game changer and guarantee regional peace and prosperity.
Through this mega project, he said we are introducing a new vision of relationship, adding the project carries opportunities for all the regional countries including Iran, Afghanistan and the Central Asian states.
He said China is a time-tested friend of Pakistan and expressed satisfaction that this relationship has transformed into a multidimensional partnership.
We are determined to take Sino-Pakistan relationship to new heights, he remarked. The Prime Minister said that Pakistan will have to play a proactive role at multiple fronts simultaneously.
He said Pakistan has been freed of the menace of terrorism to a great extent and now a comprehensive strategy is being evolved to rid the country of extremism in order to completely weed out terrorism.
“With the grace of Allah Almighty, terrorists’ sanctuaries have been eliminated for which our security forces deserve applause,” he added.
About the Kashmir dispute, the Prime Minister said resolution of the lingering dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people is the basic pillar of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
“Today Kashmir is witnessing a new wave of freedom movement. This movement is running into the bloods of third generation of Kashmiri people and the world has itself seen its intensity in the wake of July 8,” he said.
He said the Kashmiri youth are writing new chapters of sacrifices to get the right to self determination. He asked the ambassadors to tell the world that the Kashmir is not an internal matter of India and that India itself has accepted Kashmir as a disputed territory.
On Afghanistan, he said peace in the country is vital for peace and stability in Pakistan, adding the process of Quadrilateral Co-ordination Group (QCG) should be taken forward. He said Pakistan will always support efforts aimed at reviving peace in Afghanistan, adding Pakistan has a clear stance that it will not allow its territory to be used against any other country.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz dispelled the impression that Pakistan is being isolated and its foreign policy lacks directions, adding today’s Pakistan is more connected with the world than before.
Referring to the objective assessment of the present government in past three years, he said that the assessment does not support the views being projected in a section of media.
“We are, in fact, now more integrated than before,” he said, adding Prime Minister’s vision of a strong, vibrant and prosperous Pakistan and peaceful neighbourhood has been pursued with great dedication.
He said monumental achievements of the government in foreign policy are reflected in the CPEC and strategic partnership with China.
Similarly, he pointed out that Pakistan has today more engagement and cooperation with Central Asian states as reflected in CASA-1000 electricity import project and TAPI gas pipeline project.
He stated that Pakistan achieved full membership of SCO, which will prove that Pakistan is on the right side of history.
He further said that Pakistan resumed Strategic Dialogue with the US and further broadened agenda of security and economic development while protecting Pakistan’s vital national interests.
He said Pakistan also has strong ties with the European Union, the Russian Federation and has also expanded its relations with the Muslim world, adding the figures of exporting labour to the Middle Eastern countries have been increased due to an upward trajectory in these ties.
The envoys who participated in the conference were Pakistan Ambassador to United States Jalil Abbas Jilani, Ambassador to China Masood Khalid, High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit, Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan Ambassador in Vienna Ayesha Riyaz, Ambassador to Brussels/EU Naghmana Hashmi, Ambassador to Afghanistan Abrar Hussain, Pakistan Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Tehmina Janjua and the country’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation Qazi Khalilullah. -Business Recorder