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January 26, 2018

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Learning democracy: PM

DAVOS: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said Pakistan is still in a learning stage of democracy and efforts are being made to further improve the civil-military relations.

The prime minister said nuclear India has aggressive designs against Pakistan and Pakistanis have the right, capacity as well as responsibility to counter nefarious designs of any country. He stated that Pakistan would exercise all options to maintain its sovereignty.

Speaking at the Pakistan Breakfast arranged by Pathfinder Group and Martin Dow collectively on the sidelines of the 48th Annual World Economic Forum in Davos, the premier said Pakistan faces serious challenges from its two neighbours, particularly India, which never spares a moment to weaken Pakistan.

“If you are threatened, then there is no better purpose than retaining your sovereignty,” the PM said. The presence of the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the function showed that democracy was strengthening in Pakistan. Responding to a question asked by The News, he said there was no political instability in the country and his government would complete its tenure.

The PM also reminded the world that the US President Donald Trump’s infamous tweet about Pakistan did not reflect the ground realities. While responding to a question on the nuclear arms, he said that Pakistan did not initiate the nuclear arms race and its nuclear weapons are only for defensive purposes.

To a question about handling India that is very aggressive despite Pakistan’s desire to have peace, the premier said that the neighbouring country has made certain moves in the recent past, including the Cold Start Doctrine, but Pakistan has developed a counter to that. He said the solution really lies on resolving the core issue of Kashmir as per the UN resolutions.

“If your sovereignty is threatened, then you have to counter that,” he asserted. To another question on continuous provocation by India and Afghanistan at international borders, the PM said Pakistan has demonstrated capability to defend itself but the “policy of restraint mostly works”.

“In today’s world, healing fractures is the primary concern and wars only create factions,” said the PM, and added that Pakistan will protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. He said that Pakistan was fighting the largest war against terror.

“Despite what the tweets and the policy statements of the US say, Pakistan is fighting the war against terror with its own resources,” said the PM while countering the US president’s claim that Pakistan lied and cheated in return of $33 billion aid.

“I am not sure where the information for these tweets comes from but the reality on ground is very different,” he added. “During two-minute long meeting with Donald Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, I found President Trump a very different person from his public persona. Whether tweets are reflective of the government policy are not, I think this needs to be looked into,” he added.

The PM said that Pakistan will engage the US at every level and hope that the US will appreciate Pakistan’s view. “Today, Pakistan has been attacked by the elements based in Afghanistan. Last 29 suicide bombings in one year originated from Afghanistan including attack on Deputy Chairman Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri,” said the premier. Maulana Haideri survived the attack but 22 other people were killed.

The premier said that Afghanistan does not need a grand strategy but peace. He said whatever it takes to bring peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan will do that, as it firmly believes that war is not the solution. He said that Afghanistan is not manning its 2,200 kilometres long border with Pakistan.

“The ills of Afghanistan do not emanate from Pakistan”, said PM Abbasi. He said that Pakistan still hosts three million Afghan refugees and the world contributes less than $8 per person per year.

He said Pakistan has defeated the terror at the same terrain where the rest of the world has failed. “There are two Pakistans. One on the CNN and the other is the reality and I invite the global investors to come and see the real Pakistan,” said the PM.

The prime minister said the economy has been constantly growing and Pakistan posted the highest growth rate last year in 10 years. The PM said that the inflation rate was low and the investors’ confidence was high. He said the global investors and the bankers are bullish about Pakistan.

 Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met with Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chairman of the World Economic Forum, in a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the WEF Annual Meeting 2018. Special assistant to the PM Ali Jahangir Siddiqui was also present on the occasion.

Professor Schwab held discussion with the prime minister regarding Pakistan's economy and the premier was pleased to share that Pakistan's economic growth will reach six percent this year Insha Allah.

Professor Schwab appreciated the efforts and measures taken by the present government for registering a significant growth in the economy. He also noted the size of young population of Pakistan and appreciated the prime minister's focus on creating jobs for the youth in Pakistan.

Agencies/Ashraf Malkham

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