The foreign minister rubbishes allegations of misuse of funds
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday said Pakistan desired deep meaningful ties with Russia.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera during his recent visit to Iraq, the foreign minister reiterated that Islamabad was committed to enhancing engagement with Moscow. He maintained that they wanted to maintain neutrality over the Ukraine conflict.
The foreign minister said that the floods last year that devastated large parts of Pakistan was not only significant for the country but for the entire world.
Despite many economic and political challenges faced by country, ranging from climate change to Russian-Ukraine conflicts and domestic issues, the foreign minister said that he was confident that the people of the country would come together to overcome these ordeals and build a better future.
"It had affected 33 million people, besides causing huge financial losses which had far reaching effects upon Pakistan’s economy," he added.
To build back climate resilient Pakistan, he said, they had arranged a conference in Geneva in collaboration with the UN, adding they were making efforts to materialise about $9 to $10 billion pledges made during the conference.
Whereas, a large chunks of finances had been arranged through bilateral engagement with the world financial institutions, confirmed the foreign minister.
He said they, however, were trying to revive International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
The foreign minister also rubbished allegations of misuse of funds donated for the areas hit by natural catastrophe in the past by saying that there were misconception about funds which were based upon frivolous accusation as none had been ever proved. They did not hold any weight, he maintained.
About PTI chief Imran Khan’s allegations, he said that he was responsible for his downfall and history would prove it.
The foreign minister said that the country had faced dictatorships in the past and the PTI chief always supported the dictatorships. It was documented and established fact that he was brought to power through rigged elections.
He said the announcement by the military top brass that the army would not get involved in politics and would remain apolitical, had definitely upset the PTI’s supporters.
The citizens were offended on the incidents of May 9 when the PTI supporters attacked GHQ and Corps commander house, he added.
He said the elements involved in those incidents would face the legal consequences.
To a question, Bilawal said “We don’t believe the change could come by overnight”, adding the only way was through the change brought about by the democratic forces in the society.
He said change should take place through civilian and political process involving the parliament. Imran Khan had paid less attention to parliament.
“The fate of the country can’t be decided on streets but by the parliament,” he stressed while underling the need for the civilian and political leadership to strengthen the democratic role, squeezing space for others.
He said the PPP was the party that always challenged dictatorship including the last one of late Musharraf and regretted that not an attack had ever been mounted by any political party in Pakistan as done by the PTI on May 9.
The foreign minister said that he did not regret returning to Pakistan to realise the vision of his mother. “Pakistan is transitioning towards democracy. We are at the fork towards road to democracy,” he added.
To a query, he said after the fall of Kabul, the international community had many expectations from the new rulers.
“Pakistan’s position is in line with the position of the international community”, he said, adding the international community wanted Taliban rulers to to do with the women’s rights and education and that the Afghan soil should not be used for terrorist activities.
FM Bilawal further stressed that engagement of the global community with the new rulers of Afghanistan was the only solution as it was in the interest of all to have a secure and prosperous Afghanistan that was at peace with itself and with its neighbours.
The world wanted the incumbent rulers to fulfil their commitment with the international community, he said.
The foreign minister, replying to a question, said that Pakistan faced security threats from terrorist outfit TTP as different terrorist incidents occurred in Pakistan after the fall of Kabul.
He reiterated that Pakistan wanted Taliban to act against these terrorists and cited hosting of a recent meeting of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan which focused on threats of terrorism.
About ties with Iran, the foreign minister said that recently a border market was established at Iran-Balochistan border to encourage bilateral trade whereas, they were also working on electricity transmission from Iran to Balochistan.
Bilawal termed the restoration of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran as a ‘positive development’.
“It is a positive news not only for the two countries, but for the whole region and for us,” he said, stressing that through engagement all the issues could be resolved paving way for peace dividends.
The foreign minister strongly rebuffed the allegations against China’s investment in Pakistan and said that it was unfortunately a reflection of “biased attitude”.
He said all weather strategic cooperation between Pakistan and China was based upon economic prosperity.
Pakistan was engaged with China, through China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a flagship of “One belt one road’ initiative under which China was completing different energy and road infrastructure projects, he added.
The foreign minister reiterated that they were optimistic to live up to their commitment, adding “Development is the right of all countries.”
As result of CPEC, they were optimistic to further increase their economic activity between the two countries. The economy of the two countries supplemented each other.
About his visit to Iraq, he said that it would further enhance the bilateral and economic cooperation between the two brotherly countries.
They also wanted to strengthen the security and defence cooperation and share their experiences learnt from terrorism. For the promotion of cultural and religious ties, both the countries agreed to ease visas for tourism, he added.
— Additional input from APP