Qureshi asks India not to shy away from Kartarpur talks


-FM says all economic resources handed over to provinces after abolition of concurrent list under 18th Amendment


LAHORE: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday asked India to settle all differences through bilateral dialogue and not delay the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor.

Addressing a press conference flanked by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar here at the Governor House, he said that despite tensions with India in the wake of the Pulwama incident, Pakistan participated in the talks on Kartarpur Corridor.

“Pakistan wanted to move forward and improve its relations with India,” he added.

India, he said, should not to shy away from talks on the Kartarpur Corridor scheduled for April 2. “Pakistan is more than willing to address all the Indian reservations,” he said.

He said that Pakistan had adopted a principled stance that the Kartarpur Corridor should be opened for the Sikh community residing all over the world and added that Pakistan desires to open more border crossings for pilgrims from India.

Qureshi further said that the new visa policy was part of the government’s efforts to attract foreign tourists to the country. “People from 50 countries would be provided visa on arrival, while those from 172 countries would be eligible for an e-visa facility. The government wants to remove barriers and promote tourism,” he stated.

Regarding the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) sanctions, the minister said that the country had been placed in FATF’S grey list during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. However, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was taking initiatives to avert the country being put in its blacklist.

“Being in FATF’s grey list caused us a loss of $10 billion while the cost of being included in the blacklist would be even higher,” he said.

Regarding petroleum products price-hike, the minister said: “The common man is sensible enough and does not hold the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government or Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan responsible for the economic degradation in the country.”

Pakistan, he said, had been facing a 6.6 per cent economic deficit when the PTI government took over. “Everybody knew that claims of the stability of the dollar, made by former finance minister Ishaq Dar, were cosmetic and untenable. The PML-N government did nothing to control the line losses of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and rectify infrastructure faults,” he lamented.

Further, the foreign minister said Finance Minister Asad Umar would succeed in making the economy stable soon. “Pakistan was on the verge of bankruptcy when Prime Minister Imran Khan took over the office. The national economy is now recovering due to the timely financial assistance received from friendly and brotherly countries,” he added.

Qureshi also said that Asad Umar had managed to get concessions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was putting up tough conditions.

To a question, the minister dispelled the impression that the 18th Amendment was being done away with. “The federal government has asked the provinces to reconsider their financial needs,” he said.

Moreover, he clarified that all economic resources had been handed over to the provinces with the abolishment of the concurrent list under the 18th Amendment, leaving the Centre with almost no resources at its disposal.