ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal Wednesday said that the decision about political future of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader and former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the PML-N would be taken by the party leadership as it was an internal matter of the party.

Talking to the media after participating in an international conference in Islamabad, the interior minister said that the party’s matters were always settled within the party.

Chaudhry Nisar, for the past sometime, is publicly speaking against the policies of ruling PML-N and the party leadership. He recently chided his government for not implementing the recommendations of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to place the names of Sharif family on the no-fly list. He has also said that he would quit PML-N if Maryam Nawaz, daughter of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was made the party leader.

Ahsan also said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had started consultation process for the next caretaker set-up and his government would develop a consensus on the best names in the better interest of democracy. “We want to select those names for the caretaker set-up who could ensure transparent elections,” he said, adding the names in the next interim government should not be those who could cause delay in the timely holding of elections or create a ruckus or cause disruption in election process.

Responding to a question, he further said the cabinet would take a final decision about the 600 cases of the Exit Control List. He said these were those names that were included in the ECL after August 2016.

Earlier, Ahsan, who is also charge of planning ministry, in his inaugural address at the conference “Pakistan: A Land of Opportunities for Central Asian Republics” said Pakistan and Central Asia shared a very common cultural and political history. In the present time, the bond with the central Asian States was becoming stronger.

“We are living in the age of connectivity and network. This is an age where we need to explore the opportunity for connectivity and progress,” he said. He said that they had a lot of investment prospects and opportunities in the region. “In the 21st century, Asia will contribute 52 per cent of GDP of the global world. This will create opportunities for global economy for growth and investment,” he said

National Security Advisor (NDA) Lieutenant General (Retd) Nasser Khan Janjua in his  speech on “Prospects of Multilateral Security Cooperation for Multi Dimension Security Issues in the Region” said that today we have come together to collectively carve a way forward for the future.

“We are a blessed region having common religion. Pakistan and Central Asian region has cultural and historical commonalities and Pakistan can become massive trade corridor for Central Asian Republicans (CARs),” he said. He said that Pakistan intended to have deepened relations with the Central Asia.

He stated that the biggest challenge for this region was that the great power rivalries i.e. Russia and China were being aggravated in this region. Afghanistan in the future will be used to checkmate the Central Asian Republics. This is the biggest common challenge that we have to correct and come together to resolve this common threat, he said. He further stated that to end the suffering of Afghanistan and its people, let’s all seek closure of conflict instead of winning it. Pakistan provides a biggest bridge and connectivity to the world, he added.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua while delivering her speech on “Addressing Geo-Political Challenges to Enhance Regional Integration” said that Afghan war had negative impacts on the entire region as apart from bringing drugs and weapons, it also fuelled extremism and terrorism. “Pakistan faced the brunt of instability in Afghanistan, therefore, it wanted a peaceful Afghanistan.” The foreign secretary said Pakistan was land of opportunity for Central Asia and other adjoining regions. She said that a new era of regional integration had begun, adding having 25-year-old diplomatic relations, Pakistan and the Central Asian Countries shared common culture and history. Tehmina Janjua termed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a hope for the region. Turning to geo-political situation, Tehmina Janjua said emerging multi-polar world was a reality.

Ikramov Adkham Ilkhamovich, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan presented his speech on “Reconnecting Central Asia with South Asia- A Road towards Prosperity”. He stated that Uzbekistan was one of the top 10 economic reformers and integration into world economy was a priority for Uzbekistan. Furthermore, Uzbekistan has started process of joining the World Trade Organisation and simplification of cross border trading was crucial for Uzbekistan’s development.

Sarmad Ali, President All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS), presented his speech on “Role of Media in Promoting Regional Harmony”. He said that Media was a significant pillar for connectivity and for that reason they needed a common media corridor. “Today perception is stronger than reality so we need to counter propaganda and criticism and highlight our own reality and break criticism.”  He urged the need to highlight the true spirit and image of Belt and Road Initiative(BRI). He stated that the formation of a common media corridor would enable them to better understand each other and come closer through exchange programmes, culture and information.

Shaukat Tarin, former finance minister and presently advisor to the chairman Silk Bank presented his speech on “Pakistan on Crossroads of Developing Socio Economic and Financial Relations with People of Central Asian Republics”. He stated that Pakistan had undergone a massive transformation since early 1990s and could assist Central Asian Republics in achieving similar transformations.

Syed Iftikhar Hussain Babar, Secretary National Security Division, presented his speech on “Pakistan: A Land of Opportunities for Central Asian Republics”. He deliberated on the strengths and potentials of Pakistan that it could offer to the Central Asia.

National Security Division in collaboration with the Centre for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS) had arranged the conference.