It is important to learn from mistakes. Equally important is to put the past in the past. With the new year we need to have a new perspective that enables to better understand ourselves and others for a more meaningful life, sharing and being empathetic with purity of heart and open mind, developing culture of acceptance rather than rejection, one that discourages hate and promotes harmony as well as love and respect for fellow humans. People around the globe need to realize that relationships of states are marred by conflicts with multiple dimensions, including religious, sectarian and geographical.

Thankfully Pakistan is a forward-looking country with a history of survival, strength and courage in spite of adverse circumstances and tragedies. We need to pay tributes to our military and civilian leaders who were the national heroes in war and peace. They fought for Pakistan’s sovereignty, honour and respectable status in the comity of nations. They had the vision to plan socio-economic and political development paved with good intentions. We need to continue working hard with the same spirit for the welfare of the people in terms of basic needs and honourable living without prejudices, hate and double standards. We have to rethink in terms of preserving societal values, moral and ethical standards, positivity of attitudes and behaviours and upholding the need for discipline, unity and faith desired and advocated by the father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. We need to refix priorities and see that none of our utterances and actions go against Pakistan’s national interests. Corruption and terrorism must be cut from roots. The resolve should be to address public grievances to provide an environment of courage and confidence and to ensure peace and security and firmly establish the writ of the state.

Thanks to our valiant army leadership, officers and men for their excellence in the war against terror, thanks to the civil-military unity for greater success of National Action Plan (NAP) and the operation Zarb-e-Azab. One more favour to the people of Pakistan would be building a number of dams to produce hydel power, an inexpensive source of energy, and to ensure availability of water for agriculture and other purposes. Every time we talk of building dams, our hearts go out to pray for the departed soul of field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan in gratefulness to his gifts to the Pakistani nation. General Raheel Sharif is in a position to honour late field marshal and initiate action in this context.

I am thankful to the bright day-light that gives confidence and courage as against scary dark nights instilling fear. The fear of fear is fatal. Fear has become a greater menace than the actual threat of terrorism. Fears are greatly exaggerated. We should be thankful to the wisdom of President Franklin D. Rosevelt in this context and his experiences. Islamophobia should have no room nor space for a person like Donald Trump if the world is looking for peace and inter-faith harmony. ‘Hate’ and ‘Prejudice’ should be taken out of dictionary.

Pakistan welcomed Narendra Modi’s visit to Lahore last week that created headlines across the world. Perhaps there is realization now that India and Pakistan need to give up hostility to normalize relations. The solution is to confront extremist, xenophobic tendencies through liberal talks and negotiations. All outstanding issues, including Kashmir dispute, could be settled through talks and negotiations in line with the United Nations resolutions and participation of Kashmiris in the process of decision-making. If Kashmir issue is not resolved Pakistan need not insist on talks with India. In that case cold-war will continue. The people of both countries, India and Pakistan, are poor in spite of being nuclear power. According to a report Modi will tussle with realities at home. India is agitated with swarming streets hazardous roads and much publicized rapes. People are searching for the promised smart cities, bullet trains, jobs and what have you. It takes seconds to make an election promise. But it takes decades to translate them into action. Modi has no execution team. The time for oratory is over. It is time for actin. The rate of economic growth will be inadequate to dent poverty.

India prides itself on its 1.3 billion population market. Yet 400 million of Indians live below the poverty line of two dollars per day.

Peace in the region is essential for development. Settlement of Kashmir dispute could bring peace. Outgoing Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghwan said in Islamabad that the solution of Kashmir conflict depends on Pakistan and India’s confidence on each other. Indian media has claimed that the next meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Modi is expected to be held in Washington where both have been invited by President Barrak Obama for Nuclear Security summit in March 2016.

In the circumstances prevailing in the past Pakistan’s policies have been India specific. Pakistan should strengthen its relations with all its neighbouring countries in line with its national interests and country’s security and energy needs.

There is need for greater cooperation between Pakistan and Iran as the two countries together can play vital role for peace efforts in the Middle East. Prime Minister has recently recalled how the US President Barack Obama demonstrated his statesmanship that led to improved ties with Iran and the inking of the nuclear deal.

Pakistan has best of relations with China. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has laid foundation stone of western route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He pledged to spend Rs. 200 billion for Balochistan development. Nawaz said uplift of the province was the top priority of his government as it would benefit the entire country. The project would open up opportunities of trade and business for the whole region and help in removing backwardness of the province. Prime Minister expressed the hope all political parties would collectively work for national prosperity and against terrorism and play their due role for the durable peace and prosperity.

Indian Prime Minister’s recent initiative regarding Pak-India relations appears to have been influenced by the road to development that Pakistan is on. Modi also seems to have been impressed by Pakistan’s military operations against terrorists and the corrupt supporting terrorism. But the fact remains that he has problems at home and pressures from world powers as well.

In view of India’s economic and foreign policy objectives there is perhaps a realization now to normalize relations with Pakistan. There is also an emerging view that Pakistan is central to any security arrangements to fight the so called ‘Islamic State’ (IS).

As for Afghanistan’s troubles, Pakistan is the only country that can make peace possible. Pakistan desires Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process in Afghanistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan have established a hot-line between their respective military commanders. The Army Chief’s visit to Kabul followed talks between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over recent weeks that sought to pave the way for an Islamabad-brokered peace process between Taliban and Afghan government.