ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that Pakistan wants to promote peaceful and friendly relations with international community, particularly with its neighbours.
"Pakistan is playing its due role for promoting regional and international peace and enhance mutual cooperation through its Foreign Office," said the prime minister while addressing inaugural ceremony of new block of the Foreign Office building that has been attributed to former Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan.
Expressing hope that Pakistan will overcome its challenges, Nawaz said country is working zealously for strengthening its relations with its neighbours, including India and Afghanistan. He stressed the need to bring changes in the traditional diplomacy to make it according to the needs of the present era.
"We are committed to expand our strategic ties with China and rebuild relation with US on the basis of mutual respect and equality besides further strengthening ties with Islamic countries," he said, adding the world has become a (global) village and Pakistan cannot afford isolation at any level.
PM further said it is responsibility of our diplomats who are our ambassadors to work hard for strengthening relations with international community particularly with the neighbours, and promote trade. He said conventional diplomacy had now acquired new dimensions and the specialised streams like multi and bilateral diplomacy and economic diplomacy coupled with public diplomacy and services streams were now more relevant.
Incumbent government, he said, is focusing on four point agenda which included weeding out terrorism, revival of economy, overcoming energy crisis and promoting trade at international level instead of getting aid. "While the strengthening of democracy is indeed a matter of pride, we remain conscious that our nation also confronts formidable foes - the menace of extremism and terrorism and a challenging economic situation. Accordingly, our government's priorities in the domestic arena include: fighting terrorism, reviving the economy, resolving the energy crisis, and improving governance," he added.
The prime minister said the country's foreign policy was based on four key priorities: Firstly, build a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood; Secondly, reach out to regional and international partners; Thirdly, focus on ‘trade, not aid’ And lastly, develop a consensus-based approach to counter terrorism. He said in order to realise the policy objectives, important initiatives had been taken to improve relations with Afghanistan, resume dialogue with India, strengthen strategic partnership with China, re-build relations with the US on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest, engagement with Europe, and enhance our solidarity with the Islamic world.
Nawaz said, "Our emphasis on economic dimensions of the national agenda is reflected in all these interactions. The recent approval of GSP Plus by EU testifies to this fact. In short, our message to the world is of peace and friendship." He said Pakistan seeks cooperation based on mutual interest and "Our effort is to transform the existing friendly ties into mutually beneficial partnerships."
The PM said the Foreign Office has to further strengthen institutional linkages with ministries of Commerce, Economic Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, Interior and the organisations like Board of Investment and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan in order to build a positive image of Pakistan and to promote and safeguard economic interests of the country. He said after devolution of powers to the provinces, the Foreign Office has to interact with provincial governments more often and facilitate provinces to establish contacts with other countries.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the country's Missions also need to pay special attention to the needs of overseas and should increase their accessibility towards Pakistani community and adopt welcoming and responsive attitude towards them. He called upon the Heads of Mission to maintain close liaison with the Pakistani community and oversee implementation of measures aimed at safeguarding their rights and interests in foreign lands and enhancing their well-being.
He said Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah enunciated the key element of the country's foreign policy when he said that "our object should be peace within and peace without" and it still remains the defining element of foreign policy. He said the Quaid made it clear that Pakistan wanted to live peacefully and maintain friendly relations with its immediate neighbours and with the world at large.
He mentioned the important part played by successive generations of the country's diplomats including Mr Jamshed Marker, who was a non-career diplomat, Mr Agha Shahi, an ICS Officer, and Mr Sheharyar Khan, a career diplomat, who all worked for the advancement of Pakistan's key national objectives. He expressed gratitude to the friendly countries who had graciously contributed to this building's interior decoration and said the elegant chandeliers from Turkey were one such shining example.
The prime minister congratulated the officers and staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the inauguration of a new office block and commended the efforts of all those who had worked on this important project. He said the new block was befittingly named after Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, who is a towering personality in every respect. He said he had personally known Sahabzada Yaqub for many years. The PM termed Sahabzada Yaqub a rare example of the finest soldiers becoming an outstanding diplomat and rounding it all by learning and scholarship, that earned him respect of people in Pakistan and abroad.
Speaking on the occasion former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador designate to United States Jalil Abbas Jilani highlighted the salient features of the foreign policy and said Foreign Office was playing its due role to strengthen the relations with international community and neighbours. He said positive results have been achieved due to new foreign policy guidelines given by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.