ISLAMABAD, Dec 20 (APP):Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi here on Thursday said Pakistan was willing to engage India in dialogue as it wanted peace in the region and economic revival and progress for itself.Speaking in response to a Calling Attention Notice at the floor of the Senate, he said the present government decided to take the course of peace, not for United States and India, but in the interest
of Pakistan. “If we want economic progress and economic revival and change in our priorities which we
need then we have to show our own thinking”, he expressed.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan told India that it was willing to engage it in dialogue when it
(India) was ready. The delay in dialogue was not from Pakistan and when India declined to engage itself in talks, our response was measured and mature as disengagement was not a solution to resolve outstanding issues, he added.
The minister said the opening of Kartarpur border was a desire of Sikh community as the Guru Nanak spent last 18 years of life at that place. “It was an old desire of the Sikh community and Pakistan took a
transformative decision which would connect Narowal with Gurdwara through a corridor.” He said the federal Cabinet decided to go ahead with the opening of the border and on that basis it sent a note variable to the Indian High Commissioner to inform their government that Pakistan wanted to do open the border point and these were the reasons. When India saw it called an emergency meeting of its cabinet which passed a resolution, endorsed and acknowledged the initiative of Pakistan as it did not want to be left behind.
The cabinet also sent its two ministers to represent the state of India, he said adding 50 top journalists of electronic and print came to the Kartarpur event which sent a wave of happiness in the minority communities of Pakistan and Sikhs all over Europe, America and the slogans of long live Pakistan were heard in Amristar. India changed its position on the issue under sheer public pressure, Qureshi recalled and said the Indian Foreign Minister sent a reply that she could not come due to her prior commitments.
He said Pakistan needed a peaceful neighborhood so that it could focus on its socio economic
development. “We are left behind in the race of development but we need to set our priorities right so that we can regain our status”, he added.
He said India should realize the price that Pakistan had paid with lives of its civilians and personnel of security forces due to the menace of terrorism. The minister said the PTI government reflected the thinking of Quaid e Azam that in the new state Hindus, Sikhs and Christians should be free to go to their
temples, Gurdwaras and churches and this gave everybody a sense of security. He said there was
complete religious freedom in Pakistan but certain forces used different pressures and tactics to malign the country and the government was tackling the issue.
Lauding the sacrifices of Armed Forces, Law enforcement Agencies in war against terrorism, he asked India to realize the sacrifices of 75,000 Pakistanis in war against terrorism besides enduring billion of rupee losses in the war as over 3 million Afghan refugees were still residing in Pakistan. Pakistan has almost defeated the menace of terrorism.
Regarding tripartite dialogue going on among Taliban, United States and Pakistan, the Foreign Minister said it was long standing consideration of Pakistan that negotiations were the only way forward for settlement of Afghan crisis. China has also been taken on board. Due to efforts of last three months, the relations with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) ,Qatar, Iran has improved significantly.
He said the relations with Saudi Arabia had offered economic package without imposing any conditions. Saudi Arabia has also committed to establish an oil refinery in Pakistan. A high level delegation will
visit Pakistan in February next. Crown Prince of UAE will visit Pakistan in January next. Most likely, he said UAE will also announce an economic package for Pakistan. Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahatir
Mohammad will visit Pakistan in March 2019. The PTI government’s focus, he said was to start second phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) , thus focusing on job creation and attracting industrialization in the country.
Severely criticizing India on brutalities in Indian occupied Kashmir, Qureshi said all Pakistanis political parties were onboard on Kashmir issue. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights (OHCHR) report on Kashmir should be highlighted at various foras.