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National

S
Sabah
February 15, 2018

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US unilateral action to be a red line for ties: Ahsan

WASHINGTON: The United States unilateral operations in Pakistan will be a red line for the nations’ bilateral relations, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Wednesday.In an interview to CNN, the minister warned the US to refrain from bullying tactics. He said Pakistan wants relations with US based on mutual interest.

Ahsan Iqbal reiterated that the people of Pakistan are dignified and that the country desires friendship with the US based on mutual trust and respect. He said any effort to try to bully or coerce Pakistan will be counterproductive. He said that intimidating, threatening or forcing Islamabad would be a detrimental move on the part of the US. Ahsan Iqbal explained that Pakistan does not want financial assistance but desires trade and developmental partnerships. “Whatever monetary aid the US has offered was nothing extraordinary. Any attack on or conspiracy against Pakistan’s interests however will be responded to accordingly,” he warned.

The minister further stated that Islamabad was ready to work for peace in collaboration with global fraternity and desired linkages with the US based on mutual respect.

He noted that the Afghanistan peace issue requires not just a military solution but a political one as well. He mentioned that the US keeps putting the onus of its failures in Afghanistan on Pakistan.

“To have the final outcome in Afghanistan to have peace and stability, we need to follow a comprehensive approach,” he said, adding, “We need to have (a) military option but also a political option. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns and interests must be incorporated in the approach that we follow in that region (South Asia).”

The minister said it was necessary for the US and Pakistan to work together for peace efforts in Afghanistan. He said Washington needs to change the way it looks at South Asia, especially Afghanistan. “Pakistan has sacrificed the most in the war against terrorism with over 60,000 lives lost to the cause over the past few years and its economy having borne more than 25 billion in costs,” he said. Nonetheless, he said, Pakistan has fought and will keep waging the war against terrorism not for the US or its financial assistance but for the safety and security of Pakistanis. Meanwhile, Ahsan Iqbal said the government is making efforts to boost exports and attract foreign direct investment and remittances from overseas Pakistanis for the economic prosperity of the country.

Addressing the Pakistani community in London, he said Pakistan is contemplating to issue electronic visa to facilitate visitors and investors. He said peace has been restored across the country including Fata and Karachi. Highlighting the potential of Thar coal reserves, he said that the area has the potential to the energy values equal to Saudi Arabia and Iran.

He said Thar coalmines can fulfil the energy requirements of Pakistan for 400 years. He said under CPEC Pakistan will build Gwadar maritime port making it one of the best maritime ports in Asian region. Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan has now become one of the best investment-friendly destinations for investors with an attractive market of 207 million people with emerging middle class. He also urged them to invite UK investors to exploit investment opportunity in various sectors of Pakistan. Ahsan Iqbal also held meeting with UK Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen in London and discussed bilateral economic cooperation.

Meanwhile, Ahsan Iqbal also held meeting with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. They discussed matters of mutual interest and bilateral cooperation in diverse fields. Boris Johnson lauded the economic reforms agenda of Pakistan.

He said that UK is taking keen interest in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and expressed desire to take benefit from it.

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