ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Monday said that country’s foreign policy will be made at the Foreign Office but other institutions will also be consulted.

“Let me be clear: The foreign policy will be made here at the Foreign Office,” Qureshi said, speaking at his first news conference after taking oath as the foreign minister.

Without explicitly referring to the military GHQ, he said there were preconceived notions about where the foreign policy of Pakistan is made.

The minister said he would do engage with all institutions including national security institutions for their input, as is the policy across the world.

“Don’t you seek input from the Central Intelligence Agency (and Pentagon)? I am aware of their working and I will work for the betterment of Pakistan,” he replied to a question from a foreign journalist.

On Pak-US relations, he said: “I am well informed of the priorities of US as I have worked with them in the past.... we have our own priorities.”

The minister said he will listen to the US concerns and also put before them Pakistan’s viewpoint. He said bilateral relationship should be improved on the basis of mutual respect and equality.

He stressed the need for embassies to treat the overseas Pakistanis with respect. He urged the officials of Pak missions abroad to remember that they were not rulers but servants to the nation.

“New Pakistan requires change in the attitudes. Diplomats should respect overseas Pakistanis. I also have a small part in 100-day action plan,” said Qureshi.

Relations with India

Asked about Pak-India relations, Qureshi said “both the countries were nuclear powers. [Therefore] there is no room for adventure. Kashmir issue holds significance and India should understand this.”

He went on to say, “Continuous negotiations are needed. We know the issues are tough and will not be solved overnight, but we have to engage.”

The foreign minister said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote to PM Imran Khan and congratulated him.

“He (the Indian PM) has also indicated the beginning of talks between the two countries,” the minister said. He stressed that Pakistan’s interests were the first priority as the foreign policy will begin and end at the country.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government, he said, would pursue a bipartisan approach to foreign policy issues and take the opposition on board in addressing these challenges.

The foreign minister said that attempts were being made to isolate Pakistan but the government wished to maintain peace and stability in the region.

He said it would be his endeavour to build national consensus on foreign policy . He pointed out that some forces had been pushing Pakistan towards isolation in the absence of a regular foreign minister.

Qureshi declared that he would consult with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and also the former foreign ministers Hina Rabbani Khar and Khawaja Mohammed Asif for their suggestions on foreign policy and especially on the September session of the UN General Assembly.

Afghanistan

Qureshi said Pakistan and Afghanistan have to work together. He expressed his intention to pay a visit to Kabul to move forward on bilateral agreements.

“I want to take a solid message to the people of Afghanistan. The two countries share a future and geography, and we have to work together and begin our long journey,” he said.

The minister said he wanted to tell the people of Afghanistan that the two countries needed to become the support base of each other, adding that Pakistan and Afghanistan had the capability to become a good support mechanism for each other.

To a question about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Qureshi said the PTI supported the mega project. He said he will discuss with his Chinese counterpart the future initiatives to be undertaken under CPEC for socio-economic development of the country.

Qureshi said the federal cabinet was the reflection of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision which would work dedicatedly towards ending poverty in the country.

Asked how the foreign affairs ministry would follow the prime minister’s instructions on austerity, he said a task force had been set up under Dr Ishrat Hussain for its implementation and each ministry would follow it with different approach to match the requirements of the rest of world.

 

 

FO clarifies Qureshi’s statement on Modi letter

Pakistan later on Monday clarified the situation created by Indian media about Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s letter to PM Imran Khan.

Contradicting the apparent claim of Qureshi that PM Modi in his letter expressed the wish for talks with Pakistan, Indian media said their prime minister wrote a ‘congratulatory letter’ to Mr Imran Khan but it did not mention a call for ‘dialogue’.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal stressed that the foreign minister had not stated that “the Indian Prime Minister had made an offer of a dialogue” but had said that the “Indian Prime Minister in his letter to Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi had also mentioned something similar to what the foreign minister elucidated earlier - that the way forward was only through constructive engagement.”

The spokesperson said that Qureshi was also briefed about the same positivity and constructive environment prevailing during the meeting of the former Minister of Law and Information with the Indian External Affairs Minister during his visit to India on August 18 to attend the funeral of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“Pakistan looks forward to a mutually beneficial, uninterrupted dialogue with India to resolve all issues. Any attempts to instigate controversy and vitiate the environment are counter–productive and against the spirit of responsible journalism,” the spokesperson added.

Earlier, India Today and other Indian websites quoting ‘credible government sources’ said that Mr Narendra Modi didn’t express his wish for dialogue in letter to Pakistan PM, but it did mention ‘India is committed to peaceful ties’.

According to TimesNow News Modi’s letter states, “Polls and the smooth transition strengthen belief in democracy.” It adds that Modi said shared belief will bring peace and prosperity in the subcontinent and make it free from terrorism and violence.”

It further quotes PM Modi as saying “we have a commitment to build good neighbourly relations” and “pursue meaningful and constructive engagement for the benefit of people in the region.”

“The contents of the letter are what is usually written in a congratulatory letter. This is in contradiction to the claims made by the Pakistan foreign minister,” the report added.