Raja extols EU trade concessions


Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Monday said Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with European Union which would be further strengthened with passage of time. He was talking to President of European Council, Van Rompuy, who called on the Prime Minister here at his Villa on the sidelines of Asia Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM-9) and discussed matters of mutual interests.
President of European Council congratulated Raja Pervez Ashraf on his election to the office of Prime Minister. The President of EC briefed the Prime Minister about the efforts made by EU to grant trade concessions to Pakistan which was appreciated by
Prime Minister Ashraf which, he added, would strengthen economy of Pakistan.
The Prime Minister informed the President EC about efforts made by Pakistan for improvement of relations with India and Afghanistan. He said both Pakistan and India have taken initiatives to improve ties and resumed the composite dialogue process which entails negotiations on all outstanding issues with India. Highlighting efforts made by government to improve human rights situation, the Prime Minister said that human rights constitutes an important part of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) manifesto.
“We have taken several measures to improve human rights situation in the country including improvement of women’s lot and protection of rights of minorities,” he said.
Prime Minister Ashraf said Pakistan is a frontline state in the war against terror and has suffered both in men and material. He expressed his resolve that Pakistan would continue its fight till this menace is rooted out.Talking about Afghanistan, the PM said “We share long border with it and desire peace in Afghanistan”.
He said people of Pakistan generally and PPP particularly have rendered great sacrifices for democracy in the country. Late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto sacrificed their lives for upholding democratic rights of people and thousands went to jails for this cause.
The Prime Minister said, “Today all the democratic forces in Pakistan realize that the transition is going to be important”.
He also briefed the President EC on the steps taken by the government to ensure free, fair and impartial elections in the country and hoped that EU would send its observers to monitor the forthcoming general elections in Pakistan. Prime Minister Ashraf said appointment of Chief Election Commissioner by consensus would go a long way in ensuring free and impartial general elections in Pakistan Recalling the visit of Lady Austin to Pakistan in June this year, Van Rompuy said that European Union would continue its strategic dialogue with Pakistan.
Presdient EC said that the EU and Pakistan are like-minded and both desire better relations and added that European Union admires the sacrifices made by Pakistan in fighting terrorism. He said, “We admire you and your party for the sacrifices made for democracy in the country. We share values which make our relations lasting.