Pakistan wants peaceful relations with all its neighbours, says Sartaj Aziz

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ISLAMABAD: Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz has said that Pakistan is desirous of having better and peaceful relations with all its neighbours on the basis of equality.

Talking to Special Representative of the British Prime Minister on Pakistan and Afghanistan Owen Jenkins in Islamabad on Monday, Aziz said that Pakistan was keen to strengthen ties with the United Kingdom in all spheres, especially economy, education and health.

British High Commissioner Thomas Drew and other senior officials of the high commission also accompanied Jenkins. Secretary for Planning, Development and Reforms Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Chief Economist Dr Nadeem Javaid and ministry’s spokesperson Asim Khan also attended the meeting.

Both sides discussed issues of the bilateral interest, mutual cooperation and situation of peace, security and economic condition in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Sartaj Aziz informed the delegation about government’s concerted efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan. He maintained that the government of Pakistan has always attached great importance to its relations with Afghanistan since peace and stability in Afghanistan is not only in the interest of Afghanistan but also directly affects the domestic security in Pakistan.

“Therefore, Pakistan has always endeavoured to remain engaged and constructively participated in all initiatives and forums for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” said Sartaj Aziz.

The two sides discussed bilateral relations, including trade and transit which is very significant for both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The deputy chairman said that Pakistan had recently improved its infrastructure in Chaman and Torkham, which would further ease the trading opportunities between the two countries. “Afghanistan is an importer of medicine, food construction material and manufacturing equipment from Pakistan via transit trade facility,” he added.

He also said that improved security, significant economic progress and stability in Pakistan had paved the way for local and foreign investors which were positive signs to help government focus more on human development, fighting poverty and working for the well-being of the people.

He also said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has paved the way for foreign investment in the country. He added that it is because of the prudent economic policies that Pakistan achieved the highest growth rate in a decade last year.

Sartaj Aziz stressed that political stability and continuity of policies had played a major role in ensuring the economic stability. He added that the agriculture sector contributed a significant amount to GDP and employment, adding that the government is concentrating to improve its agricultural policies.

The British envoy said that his country desired to strengthen ties with Pakistan in different fields. He also lauded Pakistan’s role and contribution in the war against terror and maintaining peace with Afghanistan and in the region.