ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister of Austria Alexander Schallenberg on Thursday said Pakistan had taken effective steps in eradicating terrorism and restoring peace in Afghanistan.
Addressing a joint press conference along with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Austrian foreign minister said Pakistan had made an immense contribution towards ensuring peace and stability in the region.
FM Schallenberg, who arrived in Islamabad Wednesday on a four-day visit, held a meeting with FM Qureshi where the two sides discussed a whole range of bilateral matters as well as regional and global issues.
FM Schallenberg thanked the government of Pakistan for ensuring the smooth repatriation of its stranded nationals from Afghanistan and pointed out that the world could witness a big refugee influx from the conflict-hit country.
He said Austria was keen to explore the South Asian trade markets and added that his visit would open up a new era of his country’s relations with Pakistan.
He mentioned that during his meeting with FM Qureshi, several areas of importance including trade, climate change, and green energy came under discussion. With the Russian war in Ukraine, he said a new world order was in the making, adding that the situation could lead to a crisis.
The Austrian FM said Pakistan was hosting the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation which was an important step. He said Austria had always played an effective role in promoting basic rights and freedom and mentioned that the United Nations Charter had a clear manifestation of tolerance towards other religions.
Foreign Minister Qureshi said Pakistan attached great importance to its relations with Austria and considered it an important country of the European Union. He mentioned the excellent investment opportunities available for Austrian companies in Pakistan in the fields of renewable energy, tourism, housing, agriculture, and information technology.
He said the special economic zones under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also offered attractive incentives and tax concessions for Austrian investors. He hoped that Austria would continue to support Pakistan in the fourth biennial review of GSP + status this year.
FM Qureshi said Pakistan believed that constructive diplomatic and political engagement of the international community with Afghanistan would ensure lasting peace and stability. The foreign minister mentioned that Pakistan provided all possible assistance for the evacuation of diplomats, representatives of international organizations, NGOs and media persons from Afghanistan.
He emphasized joint and coordinated efforts to prevent human tragedy in Afghanistan. He expressed confidence that the visit of the Austrian foreign minister to Pakistan would impart further impetus to the multifaceted Pakistan-Austria relationship. Qureshi said he apprised his Austrian counterpart on serious human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. To a question on the current Ukraine situation, he said Pakistan was watching the developments with concern.
He said Pakistan had emphasized the importance of continuous efforts for the elimination of hostilities, establishment, and maintenance of humanitarian corridors, provision of humanitarian aid, and diplomatic efforts. He said the Ukraine conflict was “not a European war” and stressed that the visit of Austrian FM was of business and geopolitical nature.