Multan - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi disclosed on Sunday Pakistan is going to enter the second phase of CPEC with China.

“There is no threat to CPEC [China Pakistan Economic Corridor]. Our government considers it a game changer,” he told the participants of a function here at the Tea House.

“We’ll ink agreements with China for poverty alleviation, agri research and production, relocation of labour and establishment of new economic zones under CPEC phase-II,” the foreign minister revealed.

Giving some details, he said that four economic zones would be set up in the country under the second phase of this mega development project, which is part Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiative.

Qureshi said that when the current government came into power some quarters launched a propaganda campaign that the CPEC had come into danger. “But I publicly declare here that the CPEC has no threat, rather we’re moving forward [on it].”

He told the participants that Pakistan was also going to sign a Strategic Enhancement agreement with the European Union.

The minister added that the agreement would be signed in ongoing month as German foreign minister was due in Pakistan this month. He added that the EU was the largest trade market of the world and a new trade agreement would deliver great benefits to Pakistan.

On relations with India, he said Pakistan did not want fight with the neighbouring country despite their belligerence.

“We want peace but India needs to understand that peace doesn’t mean we want to strike a deal on Kashmir,” he said. Kashmir issue was not limited to just the valley rather it had become an international issue, he added.

Qureshi said that Pakistan raised voice against Indian violations of human rights in the occupied state at all international forums including British House of Commons, UNO and European Union on which India got infuriated. He said that it was a big diplomatic

 

 

success of Pakistan that despite Indian participation in meeting, the OIC termed Indian atrocities in Kashmir as state terrorism. “It is our stance that if you raise the hand of peace, we’ll hold it but if you show us the fist of war, we’ll crush it,” he warned.

The foreign minister said that there were funeral processions everywhere in Kashmir and he would surely be having sleepless nights if he were the foreign minister of India.

He said that Pakistan’s tough time had not ended and “we had to face even tougher situations” in coming days. The previous government did not appoint a foreign minister for four and a half years, creating a big diplomatic vacuum which resulted into deterioration of relations with USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, China and other countries.

Qureshi said the incumbent government not only defended country on all diplomatic fronts in its first six months but also improved relations with the above mentioned countries. He said that despite difficulties we were moving forward confidently.

Talking of the challenges Pakistan faces, the foreign minister said that India wanted to isolate Pakistan on international level and a number of plans were made for this purpose. He maintained that India took SAARC hostage with the support of Bangladesh.

“On the other hand, Afghanistan blames Pakistan at all international forums for all of its failures. Whatever happens anywhere, our neighbouring countries start pointing fingers at us without any investigation,” he lamented.

Stressing the need for talks with India, Qureshi said that over $1,000 billion had been spent in Afghanistan and American forces were fighting there for 17 years. “Despite this all, America and Taliban are sitting on negotiations table in Doha,” he added.

He pointed out that Pakistan was put in FATF Grey List during the era of previous government [and still remains of that list]. He warned that the country was on verge of bankruptcy while many institutions had already gone bankrupt. He said that we have to come out of this crisis and [God willing] this state will exist forever.

The minister revealed that the foreign office had summoned foreign envoys many weeks before Palwama incident and they were briefed that Islamabad feared that Modi could stage this kind of drama before the elections in India. He said that India should think that why the situation in Kashmir had deteriorated to the present level.

He said that former president Zardari asked him that he should have attended the OIC meeting. “I told him that we have bowed down our head before the parliament and the parliament has adopted this resolution [which urged government to keep out of the meeting]. I showed him [PPP co-chairman] the resolution which also bore the signatures of PPP’s parliamentarians,” he added.

Qureshi said that the relations with Russia have witnessed a pleasant change in recent months. He disclosed that India asked Russia to bash Pakistan after Palwama incident but Moscow refused to do so. “Instead they offered to give platform [to the two sides] to sit together and settle the issues through talks,” he added.

He said that China was “with us yesterday and it is with us today”. He declared that Pakistan’s relations with the US were also going to take a new turn. Citing US President, he said that Trump had stated that Pakistan was playing an important role in Afghan reconciliation process.

The foreign minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan always reiterated that the Afghan issue could only be resolved through talks and he had been called Taliban Khan for his stance. “It has always been the stance of our leadership that there was no military solution to Afghan issue. Today, the world has acknowledged our viewpoint,” he added.

He said that peace in Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan. If the Turkmenistan route was opened, it would help resolve Pakistan’s energy crisis, he held.

Qureshi said that good relations with Iran are an important need of Pakistan, adding that Islamabad foiled all attempts at deteriorating its relations with Tehran.

He said that when the PTI came into power Saudi Arabia was “not ready to even listen to us” while the relations with UAE were not pleasant either. “But we improved our relations with both the brotherly countries and adopted a neutral stance on Yemen issue.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said in clear words that we can play a bridge or the role of mediator in this dispute but cannot become part of it, he added.