MULTAN - Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi disclosed on Sunday that Prime Minister Imran Khan would convene a meeting on the issue of South Punjab secretariat soon and parliamentarians from the region would be invited as well.

The foreign minister while talking to reporters in Multan said that South Punjab should get separate identity, adding that it was part of PTI’s manifesto. He said that everyone wanted progress on sub-secretariat issue but support from other parties was needed for the progress. He disclosed that a meeting chaired by the Punjab Chief Minister was held and decision was made to move this issue forward.

He said there was a disagreement on the location of the secretariat. “The disagreement is on whether the secretariat should be established in Bahawalpur or Multan and now Prime Minister will decide the location himself,” he added. He contradicted rumors regarding establishment of the secretariat in Taunsa, saying no such proposal was under consideration. He added that someone casually tossed the idea during Lahore meeting that if the secretariat was not being established in Multan or Bahawalpur, it may be set up in Taunsa.

To a query, he said that both USA and Taliban had a golden chance to sign a peace agreement. He added that the powers which criticised Pakistan in the past today praised us. He said that president Trump praised Pakistan on Indian soil which was an honour for us. He said that although it was a tough journey, it would be over soon. He said that good news was coming in on release of prisoners. “If the prisoners are released then the next phase would be dialogue on table,” he added.

The FM was of the opinion that Afghan intra-dialogue should start soon so that the peace process can move forward. He pointed out that some powers were not happy on the peace deal and we had told about these powers.

Referring to Delhi riots, he said that it was not just Muslims who were subjected to torture rather Christians were also beaten up in Delhi. “On behalf of Muslims of subcontinent, I thank the rulers of Turkey and Iran as well as Muslims of Bangladesh who condemned killings of Muslims in Delhi,” he added. He said that the European Parliament also made a good decision by cancelling the address of Modi.

Answering a question regarding Nawaz Sharif, he said that the court allowed him to go abroad under an understanding that he would keep us informed on his health but he did not do so. “We’ll tell the court about this situation and whatever decision the court makes we’ll accept it,” he declared.

About Aurat March, he said that our religion gave the highest rights to women and constitution of Pakistan safeguarded their rights. He added that women performed their duties in all fields of life including judiciary, army, medical and politics. He said that Islam granted utmost protection to the women and it barred discriminatory treatment to them. “It was Islam that gave inheritance rights to the women for the first time in the world,” he noted.

He claimed that efforts were made for the release of Dr Afia Siddiqi and the efforts would continue.

The FM refuted reports regarding change, saying he did not see any in house change in Punjab or centre. “The government will complete its term and the desires of those sitting outside government will remain unfulfilled,” he asserted.

He said that the PML (N) met with MQM but the meeting did not produce any fruit. He said that Pakistan had got a two year extension in the GSP Plus status which would surely give support to the economy.

He added that Pakistani exporters would benefit from this facility.

He claimed that the ratio of price hike had started coming down while inflation had also declined three steps. He said that each Pakistani was very precious and it was duty of the government to protect 200 million Pakistanis. He added that the WHO was satisfied with the steps taken by Pakistan for the prevention of coronavirus disease. He claimed that Pakistani students in China were safe and China extended all out support to them. “Our embassy in China is in constant contact with Chinese authorities on students’ issue,” he declared. The FM refused to comment on situation in Saudi Arabia, saying it was their internal issue.

Referring to the visit of OIC Secretary General's Special Envoy for Kashmir, the Foreign Minister said all facts were placed before the special envoy regarding situation in Occupied Kashmir. He said the envoy would present a detailed report to the OIC Secretary General for further course of action.