Govt to effectively represent Pakistan before world: Qureshi

804
APP25-24 ISLAMABAD: August 24 - Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi briefs the media persons during a press conference at Foreign Office. APP photo by Saleem Rana

ISLAMABAD, Aug 24 (APP):Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi Friday said the government would represent Pakistan effectively before the world as evident from the prime minister’s decision to visit the foreign ministry first among all the ministries.
Briefing media persons on the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he said the prime minister was given an overview of the country’s foreign policy and challenges.
Qureshi said foreign ministers of four important countries – China, Iran, Japan and the United States – were expected to visit Pakistan by September.
He said during telephonic conversation, his Iranian counterpart had desired to visit Pakistan on August 30-31.
Likewise, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due in Pakistan on September 5 and he believed that the two countries would have to understand their each others’ requirements, the minister added.
He expressed the hope that an early interaction of the US secretary with Prime Minister Imran Khan would prove helpful. Outgoing US Ambassador in Pakistan David Hale, who would be returning to US State Department on an important assignment, was scheduled to meet him on the day. Pompeo might take some input from Ambassador Hale, who would hopefully accompany the US secretary, he added.
The foreign minister categorically said Pakistan stood by its stance on the conversation between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Mike Pompeo as nothing was discussed about the terrorists allegedly operating in Pakistan.
The two sides, however, had a very candid conversation. Mike Pompeo congratulated the prime minister and desired to have a constructive engagement and productive bilateral relationship with Pakistan, he added.
Qureshi also apprised the media about the upcoming visits of Chinese Foreign Minister on September 8-9 and the Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister by the end of August.
Regarding ties with India, he said the prime minister in his maiden address, had given a positive signal for constructive engagement with the neighbouring country. “But it takes two to tango. Pakistan’s attitude is positive. Our attitude has never been apologetic, neither it is nor it will be,” Qureshi remarked.
The minister said in order to pursue an effective foreign policy, the government would bring all institutions on same page through dialogue.
He said today the centre of political and economic gravity was heading eastward and the world was moving from unipolar to multipolar.
He said though Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had hinted at initiating a peace process in the country yet Pakistan would have to think as how it could contribute to that initiative.
Terming the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) an important initiative, the foreign minister said it was discussed during the briefing to the prime minister as how the country could take maximum advantage both bilaterally as well as regionally.
He also called for more effectiveness of SCO and SAARC forums to exploit the potential for regional prosperity.
The foreign minister said the Pak-US ties had been facing ups and downs. The US would also have to realize Pakistan’s needs. Pakistan would not only know the US requirements but would also make the latter understand those of its own also, he remarked.
He said unfortunately, Pakistan could not take due advantage of the GSP-Plus status for it could not enhance exports. He also called for exploring the untapped potential of African market.
Regarding the FATF’s grey list, Qureshi said he would get input from the caretaker finance minister to devise a strategy accordingly to evade placement of Pakistan on the black-list.
The foreign minister said during his visits abroad, he would particularly enhance interactions with the expatriates and appealed to the overseas community to support the country in the difficult time. He said it was pleasing that the overseas Pakistanis would get the voting right that would enhance their participation in the political process.
Foreign Minister Qureshi said the prime minister desired to see the Foreign Office as a strong and more effective entity that was why he opted to have first visit of the foreign ministry.
He also talked of the engagement of the media for country’s image building and exemplified the similar role of media in other countries for narrative building.
He said pursuing the prime minister’s austerity agenda, he would not stay at five star hotels during his foreign visits rather prefer to reside at embassies to save the public money. He also announced not to travel in the First Class but in the Business Class.
Qureshi said it had been decided that no minister or officer would be allowed to visit abroad without the prime minister’s permission.
To a query, the foreign minister questioned the Indian government as to whether there was any solution other than the dialogue to resolve bilateral issues. Kashmir was and would be a core issue between the two countries but both the sides must talk to each other to create an enabling environment.
He also shared his plan to hold a meeting with the former foreign ministers to get their input on the Kashmir issue.
Asked whether the prime minister would attend the UN General Assembly session, the foreign minister said currently he was focusing on the domestic challenges to meet the public expectations for what they had voted his party to the government against two entrenched political parties. However, he said the final decision in that regard would be taken by next week.