Pakistan, EU agree to strategic partnership in diverse fields


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the European Union (EU) have agreed to a new Strategic Engagement Plan to build a strong partnership in diverse fields.

The understanding came at the fourth round of Strategic Dialogue between Pakistan and the European Union in Islamabad on Monday.

The Pakistani delegation was led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi while the EU by its Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini.

Later, addressing a joint news conference along with Federica Mogherini, FM Qureshi was confident that the engagement plan, which will be formally signed in Brussels, will lay the foundation for a bright future between Pakistan and the European Union.

He said trade between Pakistan and the European Union has doubled after the grant of GSP Plus status to Pakistan in 2013.

He said the present government is keen to enhance exports to Europe and fix the trade deficit issue, besides creating more jobs for Pakistanis through trade with Europe.

Qureshi said he also apprised the EU delegation about the steps taken by Pakistan to fulfil the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as well as the steps taken to cleanse the tribal belt.

The foreign minister said both the sides also held discussions the INGOs. He pointed out that seventy-five INGOs are registered and working in Pakistan.

FM Qureshi said he also informed the EU delegation that Pakistan is open in engaging with India to resolve all out outstanding disputes through a sustained dialogue as it is the only sensible way to go forward.

He said both the sides are also convinced on it that solution lies only in the dialogue process. He questioned whether atomic neighbours can even think to go to war, declaring that “this will only be madness”.

The foreign minister said Pakistan has demonstrated restraint and gave a measured response.

He said we took various steps to deescalate the tension including the immediate release of captured Indian pilot.

He said the world is not oblivious to the steps that we took including that of sending back our high commissioner to India and restoring the hotline between the military directorates.

On Afghanistan, he said the European Union delegation shared Pakistan’s concern for peace and stability in the country.

He said that there is no military solution to the issue of Afghanistan. He said the EU delegation appreciated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan reconciliation process.

About Iran, Qureshi said that the Pakistani side informed the EU that being a nieghboring country, Iran is very important for Pakistan.

He also reiterated Pakistan’s concern on growing Islamophobia in the West.

In reply, Mogherini said the new Strategic Partnership Plan will lay a strong foundationthe for partnership between Pakistan and the European Union and further boost their future cooperation.

She said there was a convergence of beliefs between the two sides on many issues, including Afghanistan.

She said both sides agreed to work together in many fields.