LAHORE – PML-N President Nawaz Sharif has said Dr Qadri’s long marchers will come to know what a march is when they come out of their homes.
To a question on the firing from across the border on a Pakistani post in AJK, Nawaz said such incidents were sabotaging peace efforts between India and Pakistan. He said internal peace in India and Pakistan was beneficial for regional peace and serious bilateral talks were a must to resolve mutual disputes.
He also termed the grant of the Most Favourite Nation status to India a positive step to promote trade between the two countries.
To a question, he said they would not allow anyone to sabotage the election process. He said efforts were on for the appointment of an impartial caretaker setup.
Earlier, addressing a SAARC conference, entitled ‘A South Asian Vision for Economic Cooperation’, Nawaz said the South Asian countries were having plenty of human and natural resources and a population of over one billion and a half, but their contribution to the world economy was not commensurate either with the capabilities of its people or with the natural resources. “The region remains the poorest in terms of per capita income and lags behind in the field of infrastructure, social provisions and institution building. Intra-regional trade is also relatively low. Regional cooperation is the most effective instrument for achieving national growth and development, but this has not been possible because of political differences,” he added.
He said: “We need to identify the areas where we can enhance and expand our economic and commercial cooperation. Pakistan has seen a high population growth and low rates of economic growth, pushing a larger number of people into the poverty zone. The past decade has also witnessed an alarming decline in the national development. At the same time, the deteriorating security situation has discouraged foreign investment. Thus our problems have become so acute that they cannot be solved simply by economic policies. Security situation, complemented with and reinforced by cooperation of the region, is essential,” he added.
He claimed the previous PML-N government had succeeded in introducing far-reaching reforms. “Our vision was not confined to mere development of our own country, but included expansion and strengthening of economic cooperation with neighboring countries. And there is no better instrument for promoting meaningful and sustainable growth than SAARC,” he observed.
He said unless India and Pakistan recognised the imperative of resolving their differences through peaceful negotiations neither the country nor the region would be able to enjoy the fruits of growth and development. “In fact, the Lahore Declaration envisaged a promising roadmap to resolve our differences, while protecting the interests of all the parties and ensuring peace and stability in the region, but the bold and sincere initiative taken by the elected leaderships of the two countries was sabotaged,” he said.
He said the decision to normalise trade relations with India was a step in the right direction and would bring stability to trade matters. As signatories to the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), both the countries were obliged to end discrimination in trade. “It is, however, essential for the government to iron out the related issues with India, including removal of non-tariff barriers, for freer trade. The government must also hold detailed consultations with the stakeholders, especially on related aspects. The agreement on a liberal visa regime is also a welcomed step,” he added.
He also laid emphasis on giving priority to cooperation in the energy and power sectors and said this energy-starved region could not strengthen its economy, in any significant way, without regional cooperation that should then be extended to the energy-rich Central Asian states.
He also expressed the confidence that if India and Pakistan remained engaged in sincere and uninterrupted dialogue process, there was no reason why they