LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that European Union countries should take steps to further promote their historical and traditional relations with Pakistan. He said that EU countries had always kept their trade and economic relations with Pakistan above all conditions and it is hoped that they will give top priority to strengthening their economic, political and cultural ties with Pakistan in future as well. He was addressing a reception hosted in his honour by Italian Ambassador Vincenzo Prati, in Islamabad on Sunday, which was also attended by Ambassadors of 13 countries of European Union. The CM said that Pakistan was passing through a critical phase of its history and was facing serious problems like militancy but he was confident that the nation will come out of the present situation with solidarity and determination. He said that Pakistan was not the only country which had faced such challenges as many nations including western countries had successfully coped with such issues through their effective strategy and become haven of peace. He said that Pakistani nation and armed forces had rendered innumerable sacrifices in the war against terrorism and about 3 million people also had to leave their hearths and homes. He said that Pakistan needed practical cooperation and assistance of international community at this stage and world community especially EU countries should try to view this situation objectively. Shahbaz Sharif said that the time had come to make coordinated and effective efforts to identify and address the causes of terrorism and in addition to security measures, equal importance should be attached to development initiatives. Referring to the prospects of investment by EU countries, the CM said that Britain had been the biggest investor in Pakistan for years. He said that investment by EU countries will be welcomed and provincial government was ready to provide infrastructure facilities as well as all legal guarantees for this purpose. Later, replying to the queries of the ambassadors, the Shahbaz Sharif said that protection of the rights of minorities was among the top priorities of the government and Pakistans history was witness to the fact that members of minority communities had achieved prominent status in education, science, sports, health and other sectors by displaying their talent and abilities. He said that the government was striving to create an atmosphere of tolerance, accommodation and large-heartedness in the society in the light of the principles of Quaid-e-Azam. Vice Chairman Punjab Investment Board Pir Saad Ahsanuddin apprised the ambassadors of EU countries of prospects of investment in Punjab. He said that tax laws and other rules and regulations provide complete protection to foreign investment in Pakistan and its history was witness to fact that contrary to the other countries of the region, foreign capital had never been frozen in Pakistan and even Zulfiqar Ali Bhuttos nationalisation policy had given exemption to foreign investment and industries.