LONDON - Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, lauding the sacrifices of Pashtuns for solidarity and defence of Pakistan, called upon them to get united and defeat the anti- Pakistan mindset.

“The sacrifices and contribution of Pashtun people for pre and post-independence of Pakistan, especially in the wars of 1948, 1965 and 1971 with India was highly commendable and they are the loyal and honourable citizens of Pakistan,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi said while addressing a get-together of United Pashtun Society (UPS) of United Kingdom (UK chapter) at Southall London on Wednesday evening.

A large number of Pashtuns hailing from different cities of the United Kingdom attended the event.

Pakistani High Commissioner to United Kingdom (UK) Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, President United Pashtun Society (UK) Syed Safdar Shah, its Chairperson Abdullah Khan,the UPS members Syed Liaqaut Ali Shah, Muhammad Riaz, Haji Shamsur Rehman, Asghar Shah and Jan Khan also spoke on the occasion.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was currently visiting UK to attend the Extraordinary Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers’ meeting (CFAMM) convened to mark 70th anniversary of London Declaration which marked creation of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Qureshi calls upon nation to thwart evil designs of enemies trying to sow seeds of hatred to create rift among people

The foreign minister said that under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah Pakistan movement leaders representing Pashtuns, Balochis, Sindis, Punjabis and Bangalis got united and struggled for the creation of Pakistan.

He called upon the nation to get united and thwart evil designs of the enemies of Pakistan who wanted to sow seeds of hatred to create a rift among the nation.

Qureshi said every Pakistani should work for the cause of Pakistan and always keep the country’s interest supreme over personal interests.

He said overseas Pakistanis were playing an important role in economic development of Pakistan in the form of remittances to the country. Highlighting the economic challenges being faced by the country, he said Pakistan Tehreek-Insaf (PTI) government was facing severe economic challenges due to wrong economic policies of the previous governments.

He added that half of the country’s revenue was being paid for debt servicing and no money was left for health, education, provision of clean drinking water and building of infrastructures.

PTI-led government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, he maintained, had taken a number of measures for improving and strengthening the national economy.

In this regard, he said steps had been taken to develop industries, boost exports and reduce imports of the country.

Qureshi said government had reduced its Rs.50 billion expenditures, besides freezing defence budget to lessen the economic burden on the poor people.

He said that despite financial difficulties the government had also made an increase of 10 per cent in the salaries and pensions of the government employees.

He said for alleviation of poverty, government of Prime Minister Imran Khan had recently launched a comprehensive ‘Ahsaas’ Programme for the uplift of poor segments of society.

He said that credit of merger of FATA with KP went to present PTI government.

Qureshi said that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, in the Federal Budget 2019-20, a hefty allocation of Rs.152 billion had been earmarked for development of erstwhile Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and welfare of its people.

The foreign minister said that relations with many countries including United States, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) have not only been improved but further strengthened under the present government.

Qureshi said at the invitation of US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Imran Khan would undertake an official visit to Washington from July 20-23.

He said that Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar had provided a balance of payment support to Pakistan.

He added that Saudi Arabia has also announced to provide Pakistan its oil on defer payments. He urged the overseas Pakistanis to strengthen hands of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government in its effort to make “Naya Pakistan”.

NO PEACE IN SOUTH ASIA WITHOUT RESOLVING KASHMIR DISPUTE

Shah Mehmood Qureshi Thursday said without resolving the Kashmir dispute, durable peace could not be restored in the South Asia region.

The situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) was worsening day by day, while India was hesitant in holding talks with Pakistan and not ready to resolve the Kashmir issue, he said while addressing a press conference here at the Pakistan High Commission.

The minister said India wanted to weaken Pakistan economically. Like the first UN human rights report on the Indian occupied Kashmir, its second one had also highlighted the gross HR violations in the occupied valley. He said another report comprising 507 pages by civil society in India had highlighted the excessive use of force and gross human rights violation in that country. The foreign minister said he had informed the Commonwealth meeting that there was democracy in Pakistan. After three consecutive elections, the power was smoothly transferred from one civilian government to another, and three democratic governments completed their five-year terms.

He said observers from the Commonwealth and the European Union, in their reports, had declared the general election 2018 free, fair and credible which was a good sign for democracy in Pakistan.

He said that there was confusion in the West about the status of women in Pakistan, whether they were enjoying their rights or not. However, he informed them that women rights in the country were protected through legal interventions.

He also told the Commonwealth meeting that 86 women were members of the  National Assembly and 18 of the Senate, while 139 were elected as member of the four provincial assemblies of Pakistan.

Qureshi said the women were enjoying equal opportunities in all fields of life. Through Ahsas Programme, the people would be able to stand on their own feet economically and come out of poverty.

He said he also told the Commonwealth meeting that Pakistan had hosted a large number of Afghan refugees (for decades) and was still serving them despite having limited resources.