Tuesday June 18, 2024

‘War no solution’: Shehbaz open to talks with India

PM says if there is a nuclear flashpoint, nobody will live to tell what happened

By Muhammad Anis
August 02, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif talking to the media. — AFP/File
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif talking to the media. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, without naming India on Tuesday, maintained that they were ready to talk to the neighbouring country provided that the neighbour was serious to talk on serious matters. He said wars were no solution to issues. Also, against the backdrop of Bajaur explosion, the prime minister told the interim Afghan govt to undertake concrete measures for denying its soil to be used for transnational terrorism.

Addressing the Dust to Development summit here, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said, “The neighbour has to understand that unless abnormalities are removed, normalcy cannot take place and the serious issues are understood and addressed through peaceful and meaningful discussions.”

The summit was attended by federal ministers, Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, foreign delegates, ambassadors, experts, relevant authorities and investors.

The premier further said that “Pakistan is, thanks to God, a nuclear power, not as an aggressor, but for our defence purposes. And God forbid if there is a nuclear flashpoint, who will live to tell what happened? So war is not an option.”

Shehbaz observed that three wars were imposed on Pakistan in the last 75 years that created more poverty and wasted resources which, otherwise, could have been spent on the development and prosperity of their people. “Is this the way that we adopt or have economic competition?”

Besides India, Prime Minister Shehbaz also expressed the desire to have friendly relations with the United States in his address. “We want to work with Americans. We want to have the best of relations with them as in the past, based on mutual respect and trust [and in which] we don’t try to deceive each other,” he said.

In fact, he continued, Pakistan wanted good relations with all nations. He also praised the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the financial support of two billion dollars which also helped in reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund. He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia always stood together through thick and thin and supported each other at every forum.

Shehbaz Sharif also stressed that there was a need to learn from the bitter experiences of the past 75 years and move ahead with strenuous efforts, collaboration and dedication by exploring the untapped resources, including the vast natural minerals and reserves and developing the agriculture, information technology and industrial sectors.

Talking about the suggestions of speakers, he said if they were translated into letter and spirit, he was convinced that the nation would find its lost place in the next few years through hard work and untiring efforts.

The prime minister regretted that the country’s journey of 75 years was dotted with bitter factors as they could not fully exploit the precious natural deposits estimated worth $6 trillion.

“The day gives an opportunity to self-contemplation over a journey of last 75 years,” he said. He said with Russian support, Pakistan Steel Mills was established during the 1970s while in Reko Diq a hefty penalty of $10 billion was imposed on Pakistan and if it was enforced, the entire country’s foreign reserves would have been depleted. Referring to the Thar coal mines reserves, he said these were being converted for the development of Pakistan.

Shehbaz said it was due to some mafia that natural resources were not explored in the past and cited that financial and political reasons were also involved in the delay, which required deep introspection. He said the Chinot iron ores field belonged to the poor people of Pakistan, but it also showed another bad example of corruption. “It was handed over to an overseas Pakistani who had no business history but when the matter was taken up by the subsequent government and landed in a court of law, it termed the entire matter as a manifestation of loot and plunder,” he said. He said that nothing happened as NAB could not arrest those who had been accused of plunder, adding that it was a heart-wrenching story.

The prime minister also said the previous governments should have dedicated themselves to the welfare of poor people of Pakistan. He noted that NAB, unfortunately, created fear and harassed the business community and bureaucrats in the past as it was used as a tool for political witch-hunting of political opponents.

The prime minister said that the incumbent government would complete its term in the current month. The society had been bitterly divided, he said, adding unless they show unity and discipline, they could not succeed in their efforts. He said the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) initiative had been taken for the first time in the country, under which stakeholders would collaborate and facilitate the execution of development projects.

The speakers, including foreign delegates, also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the need for exploration of natural resources of Pakistan by utilizing the latest technologies.

Addressing the Dust to Development summit, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir invited foreign investors to play a role in exploring the hidden reserves and to fully utilise this potential as the country is blessed with rich mineral resources. The COAS asked the stakeholders to fulfil their social responsibility of contributing towards the revival of country’s economy saying, “We must never lose hope”.

He said that there were vast mining opportunities in the country that would be realised through joint efforts. He said the authorities would also ensure an investor-friendly system to soften terms and avoid unnecessary delays. The COAS said Pakistan’s first mineral summit laid down new rules for ease of doing business for domestic and foreign investors as mineral projects are keys to success. He said the Government of Pakistan, in collaboration with all the institutions, established the SIFC, which brings all the stakeholders on one platform. “It is our social responsibility to play our role unitedly for the country’s economy,” he said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Shehbaz noted with concern the involvement of Afghan citizens in suicide blasts and the liberty of action available to the elements hostile to Pakistan in planning and executing such cowardly attacks on innocent civilians from the sanctuaries across the border.

“The Interim Afghan government should undertake concrete measures towards denying its soil to be used for transnational terrorism,” the prime minister emphasised.

The prime minister made these comments during his visit to Peshawar where he was briefed about the overall security situation in the province with focus on the Khar suicide blast and the status of ongoing investigations.

The prime minister and COAS Gen Asim Munir also visited the injured personnel under treatment at the Combined Military Hospital and inquired about their health. He instructed the authorities concerned to extend the best possible healthcare services to injured patients until their full recovery.

While interacting with the bereaved family members of victims of Khar suicide blast, Prime Minister Shehbaz assured them that the entire nation stood with them in the hour of grief and shared the burden of their losses. “These cowardly attacks by terrorists cannot weaken our resolve to eradicate the menace of terrorism from Pakistan. Security forces and law enforcement agencies with the support of the nation will ensure that those responsible for the dastardly attacks are brought to justice as soon as possible,” he remarked.