India must reverse illegal Kashmir merger

Bilawal says he faced massive challenges as FM

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.

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