India, Pakistan can’t stay aloof as neighbours: Qureshi

F.P. Report

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said here Friday that India and Pakistan could not stay aloof as neighbours and reiterated the need for mutual dialogue to resolve issues between the two countries.

“India is geographically linked with Pakistan through common border, weather conditions, culture, language and rivers,” the FM said while addressing an oath-taking ceremony of newly elected body of Electronic News Cameramen Association (ENCA) at Multan Press Club.

He said that India and Pakistan could coexist peacefully as good neighbors and move forward to resolve all their issues including Kashmir, Siachin, Sir Creek, water, trade and terrorism. He said that war always brings destruction and cannot be considered as an option, particularly when both countries are nuclear forces.

He recalled that Britain and Germans fought and inflicted destruction on each other in the World War-II. but today we see them connected and united under the European Union umbrella with the economic interest as the main point of convergence.

The FM said that Kashmir was burning and India was trying to suppress the voice of Kashmiris through its military presence of 700,000 soldiers and its black laws. However, he added, the voice of Kashmiris could not be suppressed in the modern electronic and Internet era.

Qureshi said that even Kashmiri leaders, who had been forming governments in the Indian Occupied Kashmir including Mehbooba Mufti,

Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, had advocated dialogue between the two countries and spoke against repeal of Article 370 and 35-A.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj has admitted that the strike at Balakot did not kill anybody in Pakistan.

He said that the statement proved Pakistan’s stance and exposed Indian lies before the world. He condemned terrorism incidents in Balochistan and added that he would not level any allegations without investigations. That is the difference between responsible and irresponsible behaviors, he added.

The minister said that Indian media created war hype after Pulwama attack in an irresponsible manner while Pakistani media responded maturely. He said that peace was top priority of Pakistan and dialogue was the way forward to achieving it.

About the recent federal cabinet reshuffle, he said that it was a prerogative of Prime Minister Imran Khan to choose his team, adding that it happens in democracies.

He said that the economic challenge the PTI government had to face after takeover was the severest in the last over seven decades. He said he would not like to comment on the gravity or depth of the economic trouble, adding that everybody knew what happened during the last 10 years.

He said that the PTI government took steps to stabilize and improve economy and Pakistan’s macroeconomic indicators were now showing continuity.

He said that it would be the sixteenth IMF package that Pakistan would avail, only the first by the PTI government. He said that governments approach the IMF upon facing balance of payment problem for economic stability.

He said that the previous government of PML-N had left an economic black hole of US$19 billion, adding that huge loans made debt servicing as the biggest item of the national budgets.

He said that it was high time that politicians start telling the truth to people. He said that the government was facing challenges on internal and external fronts and there were forces out there who want Pakistan to remain impoverished, and push Pakistan from grey to FATF black list.

The governments come and go but all they did was lip service with no analysis on impact of the FATF on Pakistan economy. He said that the foreign ministry was employing economic diplomacy in aid of finance ministry to promote investment and bilateral trade in country’s interests.

He said that Kabul talks have entered a sensitive phase and a session was scheduled for Friday in Doha. He said that nation need to develop consensus on a lot of issues and challenges confronting Pakistan.

About the media crisis, he said that media in Pakistan mostly rely on government advertisements contrary to the rest of world where private sector was the major player. He said that media played an important role in strengthening democracies.

Punjab parliamentary secretary MPA Nadeem Qureshi also spoke on the occasion.