ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said yesterday that he faced massive challenges when he took over the job last year.
Speaking at a farewell news conference here, he said Pakistan's ties with even China were troubled due to the previous government’s policies and there was tension with all the world capitals.
“Pakistan has confronted challenges head-on, successfully restoring the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and organizing the 10-year celebrations of the mega plan.
He said Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar's relentless efforts had been instrumental in guiding Pakistan out of the Financial Action Task Force's grey list.
Bilawal reiterated that Pakistan’s stance over its relations with India was very clear and consistent. “Until India revokes its unlawful and unilateral acts of 2019 to illegally merge occupied Jammu and Kashmir, there can be no significant engagement,” he added. The outgoing FM said India had violated the international laws and bilateral agreements. “There is no space left for Pakistan to meaningfully engage with India,” the foreign minister maintained at the media interaction to spotlight the achievement of the ministry through his tenure. He said he went to Goa, India to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting and tried to make use of the space available to promote Pakistan’s narrative. He said because of his participation in SCO in which he presented Pakistan’s stance clearly, India was largely disappointed. About sending Pakistan national team to contest in the ICC Cricket World Cup in India, he said contrary to India’s indulgence in immature acts, Pakistan always maintained that there should be difference between politics and sports, adding that they still had security concerns as the security of the national team could not be compromised; and they had conveyed such to the ICC and India.
The FM, to a question, said that Pakistan was not interested in the bloc politics and did not want to be part of any polar world because they wanted to serve their 224 million population, and if they were drawn into others’ interests, then they would be distracted. The foreign minister also expressed strong opposition with the previous government’s policy over the terrorists hiding in Afghanistan.
The foreign minister expressed the satisfaction that at the diplomatic front, they moved ahead with ‘damage control’ during the last 16 months.
He regretted that the PTI’s government had caused damage to the country’s relations with world capitals and strongly disagreed with the gesture of former prime minister waving a letter sent by the EU in public. Bilawal said that diplomatic affairs of the country should be run for the benefits of the people of the country, emphasising ‘consistency and continuity’ in the foreign policy. To a question, he replied that he had already maintained during previous government’s tenure that they should not expect anything from Indian Prime Minister Naredbra Modi, who was a “butcher of Gujarat”.
About the Russia-Ukraine conflict, he said that Pakistan wanted a peaceful resolution of the issue. He said they did not want to see relationship with Russia through the prism of the ongoing issue, as they wanted to collectively unlock the immense potential between the two countries. They prayed that diplomacy and peace would prevail, he added. The foreign minister said Pakistan was committed to Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline for the mutual benefits of the people of the two countries. The foreign minister, responding to a question about Afghanistan, said that certain opinions were being formed across the world on the basis of ground realities. Bilawal said that after then fall of Kabul, there was a sharp spike in terrorist incidents in Pakistan and stressed that cooperation and engagement between the two countries was necessary to tackle the issue.
He said Pakistan remained engaged with the Afghan leadership. About women’s education issue, he said, Pakistan had a very open and clear stance. The foreign minister said using the OIC platform at the UN women education conference, he had addressed the world community and highlighted steps taken by Pakistan for the women’s rights. The event also enabled the OIC member countries to show to the world the initiatives taken for the women’s rights which also helped to remove the impression in which the Muslim world was painted. Terming the fight against terrorism as their own fight, the foreign minister said that Pakistan had been the largest country in the world affected from the curse of terrorism.