Saturday December 09, 2023

Pakistan promoting regional connectivity, not pursuing new blocs: Qureshi

April 11, 2021

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan firmly believes in promoting regional connectivity among the countries instead of creating new blocs to promote peace, harmony, economic progress and prosperity.

He said that dialogue with India is primarily linked to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute and there can be no compromise over that.

While clarifying that Jehangir Tareen is not a threat to PTI, Qureshi underlined that all the elected representatives accompanying him are bound to follow the party discipline instead of following Tareen. He was talking to journalists at the inauguration of a mega utility store on Kutchery Road on Saturday

The foreign minister said that Pakistan is developing close ties with Russia, Iran, Turkey Afghanistan for regional connectivity and is not pursuing the creation of a new bloc.

To a query, he said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Islamabad at his invitation and the bilateral discussions were very fruitful. Russia and Pakistan would further discuss economy and trade in Moscow this year, he added. Russia is appreciative of the role of Pakistan Army in combating terrorism, he said and added Russia has promised to provide defense equipment to Pakistan.

He said that Pakistan has also invited Russia to revive Pakistan Railways and the Pakistan Steel Mills.

Regarding India, Qureshi said there is no other way for achieving peace except dialogue. Pakistan's primary goal is to help get Kashmiris their rights and relief from the atrocities and there could be no compromise over it.He clarified that talks with India do not mean a deal on Kashmir. The people of Kashmir have benefited from Pakistan’s LOC ceasefire understanding with India. The foreign minister said that war is not the solution to problems with India. The two nuclear powers can’t afford war, he said adding, “Pakistan is a peace loving country and knows how to protect their defense.” Pakistan is ready to host Sikh pilgrims for the Baisakhi festival but they must first convince their government for their visit to Pakistan.

Talking about the South Punjab Secretariat, he said the notification of withdrawal of powers has no legal status. All the powers of South Punjab Sectt have been restored, he said. Initially, the first installment of Rs 700 million has also been released for the secretariat, he added. The prime minister has also approved the constitution of divisional level committees comprising district representatives. Qureshi said this year a separate Annual Development Plan would be presented for South Punjab allocating 33pc funds in the budget. The PTI government has also decided to allocate a quota in the federal government jobs for South Punjab. With the allocation of quota, the talent of the South Punjab will come into service on merit. He said the Chief Minister Punjab has informed him that the next cabinet meeting will be held in Multan. The PC-1 of Mother and Child Care hospital has been developed and funds released and its foundation stone will be laid soon, he said.

Qureshi said that the government has allocated billions of rupees for Ramazan Package. Prime Minister Imran Khan wants cheap items to be provided to the citizens during the holy month through Ramazan bazaars which would eventually be converted into Sahulat Bazars. He said the government’s biggest challenge is to control inflation. The prime minister is working very hard to bring inflation under control and holds regular meetings to strategise that. Prime Ministers’ Advisor on Political Affairs MNA Malik Amir Dogar was also present on the occasion.