Regional cooperation needed to counter terrorism, says Qureshi


BEIJING: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that instead of unwarranted criticism and rhetoric, the regional countries should develop cooperative approaches to counter the scourge of terrorism as it was a global problem and required concerted efforts of the international community to defeat it.

“Pakistan believes that terrorism is a global problem and requires concerted efforts of the international community to defeat it. Only through dialogue and constructive engagement, can we defeat this scourge throughout our region,” he told Global Times during his recent visit Beijing to co-chair China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue.

He remarked that it was therefore critical that instead of unwarranted criticism and rhetoric, the regional countries develop cooperative approaches to counter the scourge of terrorism.

“Pakistan is engaged bilaterally as well as multilaterally in development such approaches”, he added.

Responding to a question about the agenda of China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, he said that he co-chaired with State Councillor Wang Yi, the inaugural meeting of the Strategic Dialogue following a decision of the political leadership of both countries in November 2018 to elevate the dialogue to Foreign Minister’s level.

“I held in-depth discussions with State Councillor on the whole spectrum of our bilateral relations including high level exchanges, future development and direction of CPEC, cooperation in the fields of trade, defence and security, enhancing people-to-people exchanges and regional and international issues of mutual interest,” he added.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that this platform would serve as an opportunity to further consolidate our time-tested All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership and reiterate our commitment to building closer China-Pakistan community of Shared Future in the New Era.

While commenting on significance of the strategic dialogue, he said that recent developments in South Asia were well known to the world. “World is also aware how the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has acted to deescalate the situation.”

Pakistan, he said, had convincingly manifested its quest for peace in the region by offering dialogue to India and investigation of the Pulwama incident if credible evidence was made available.

Afghanistan, he said was another area where Pakistan and China hold common views. Both countries were committed to peace and development in Afghanistan and in Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process.

“The Strategic Dialogue with China not only reinforces our close friendly ties but also allows both sides to evaluate the regional situation and the steps which can be taken to improve it,” he added.

Introducing the new development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that philosophy of PTI  government was people-oriented and people-centric.

“As reflected in the Pak-China joint statement issued in November 2018, both the countries agreed to focus on socio-economic development, job creation, improving people’s livelihood, poverty alleviation, industrialization, development of industrial parks and agriculture- that is Phase-II of CPEC with the premise to build on the achievements of Phase-I,” he added.

About Prime Minister Imran Khan’s forthcoming visit to China to attend the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, he said that at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan would attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April 2019.

“PM Imran Khan is expected to hold meetings with Chinese leadership on the side-lines of the Forum. More details will be released in due course,” he added.

To a question about Saudi Arabia’s pledge of US$20 investment in Pakistan, he said that Pakistan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were brotherly countries and old friends.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman have carved a new vision for future development of bilateral relations. “Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030″ to become an investment powerhouse and global hub connecting three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa fits neatly with Pakistan’s own vision of a regional trading hub and connectivity corridor,” he added.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that President Xi Jinping’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative had drawn attention of the world and countries along the Belt and Road were seeking means of collaborative and integrated economic development.

He said that CPEC was the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative and added, “It is primarily a bilateral project between Pakistan and China. CPEC will bring economic dividends to the region”.

“We are open to project-based participation of third countries including Saudi Arabia in the development of CPEC,” he added.

Regarding Pakistan’s relations with India after Pulwama attack, he said that China was a voice of reason and wisdom in our region.

“We value and appreciate China’s support and for its call to exercise restraint and upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. We welcome the Chinese efforts and its good offices to stabilize the situation in our region,” he added.

On expectation for an ideal Pak-India relationship, he said that since assumption of office in August 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan had made several peace overtures to India including the Kartarpur Corridor and release of Indian pilot.

“We hope that his calls for peace and dialogue will be reciprocated and both sides will be able to settle all outstanding issues through dialogue and peaceful means,” he added.