MULTAN          -    Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has welcomed an agreement with Switzerland about the exchange of information for the recovery of the looted money stashed abroad, and termed it crucial for improving the ongoing accountability process in the country.

Talking to the media here on Friday, he said that the Swiss government would provide information about Pakistani account holders in its country.

“The government will have no objection if the account holder proves his or her sources of income and gives money trail,” Qureshi clarified.

He said that US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad updated him about all the matters relating to the Afghan peace process and recent delegation-level talks between the United States and Afghan Taliban in a meeting at Foreign Office on Friday.

He said that Pakistan’s stance had always been that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict, adding that peace in Afghanistan was not only in the favour of Pakistan, but it would also be beneficial for the region.

Qureshi noted that Pakistan always supported sustainable peace in Afghanistan, and that it would continue its efforts for the purpose. “Pakistan would continue to play its reconciliatory role with sincerity,” he expressed the resolve.

The minister dispelled the impression that Pakistan interfered in the recent presidential elections in Afghanistan, adding it facilitated the neighbouring country by opening Torkham border round-the-clock.

He said that intra-Afghan dialogue was also needed after any agreement between the US and Afghan Taliban for sustainable peace in that country.

Qureshi said that Pakistan had always tried to ensure unity in the Muslim Ummah, as it was facing numerous challenges, including Islamophobia, blasphemous caricatures and in the shape of legislations such as the Citizen Amendment Bill, recently passed by the Indian parliament, which reflected discriminatory attitude of the Indian government towards the Muslim community.

“Bangladesh has lodged protest with India on the issue,” the minister said, and added that the bill violated human rights.

He called upon all Muslim countries to also play their role to unite Ummah. He said that Pakistan had very friendly relations with Turkey, Malaysia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

He said that Pakistan enjoyed cordial ties with all Muslim countries.

The foreign minister informed the media that in a meeting with the newly-appointed foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, he had updated him about the ongoing curfew in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoJ&K) for the last 135 days and the human rights violations in the occupied valley. He said that Pakistan was trying to win thwe support of the international community on IoJ&K issue, adding that it was due to the efforts of the government that the issue had been discussed in the US Congress and the European Union also.

Qureshi said that American Senator Lindsey Graham was arriving in Pakistan on Dec 16 to discuss different issues with him, including the Kashmir issue.

Qureshi said that despite differences among political parties on various issues, defending country’s interests must be their top priority.

Referring to lawyers’ attack on PIC, he said that everyone was shocked to hear the news. “We hope that the issues between both the parties (doctors and lawyers) will be resolved very soon. If the situation further aggravates, it will hurt innocent people,” he warned.

He said that Imran Khan did not create any hurdle in the way of arrest of any lawyer nor did he give any order regarding his nephew. He said there was no pressure on Lahore administration and anyone who took law into his or her hands would face action.

The foreign minister said that the issue was being tackled by the local administration and there was no interference by the federal government. He said that both parties were educated and sensible, adding that the issue must be resolved in a peaceful manner.

To another question, he said that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazl-ur-Rehman had the right to say anything, but his dream of in-house change was not going to materialise.

To yet another question, the FM said that senior leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Jehangir Khan Tareen and he was on the same page on the establishment of south Punjab sub-secretariat as soon as possible. He said that Multan would be more suitable place for the secretariat as compared to other cities, adding that the suggestion was justified keeping in view the location, importance and population of the city.

Responding to another question, he said that a parliamentary committee had been formed to reach consensus on the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner, adding that mature parliamentarians from the government and the opposition were members of the committee.

He said that all political parties should come with a positive attitude on the issue because free and fair election commission was must for true democracy in the country.

He said the government was waiting for a detailed judgment of the Supreme Court on extension in Chief of Army Staff’s (COAS) service. “If the need arises to contact the opposition after receiving the detailed verdict, we’ll do that,” he declared while answering a question on legislation for extension in army chief’s term.