n Shehbaz hopes Pakistan to benefit from GSP+ status beyond 2023 n Says govt committed to socio-economic emancipation of minorities.



ISLAMABAD    -   Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed the authorities concerned to utilize all resources for the resettlement of flood victims across Pakistan on priority basis and without further delay.

Presiding over a review meeting on the rehabilitation of flood victims here yesterday, the PM expressed his satisfaction over the steps taken for the rehabilitation of the victims.

He was given a briefing on the role of the National Disaster Management Authority and National Highways Authority in providing relief to the affected people and ensuring timely restoration of damaged infrastructure. He directed NDMA and NHA to further improve their skills in view of more rains.

The Prime Minister was briefed in detail on the ongoing efforts of the provincial and district administrations to help the people in the flood-affected areas and restore the infrastructure.

Earlier, during a meeting with newly appointed Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan, Dr. Riina Kionka, the PM credited the current GSP Plus scheme with enhancing the mutually beneficial trade ties between Pakistan and EU and hoped that Pakistan would continue to be part of the arrangement beyond 2023.

Recalling his recent telephone conversations with the EU Council President Mr. Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission Ms. Ursula von der Leyen, the Prime Minister expressed the confidence that the upcoming visits to Pakistan by the EU Parliamentary delegations as well as the next rounds of political and security Dialogues under EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan would pave the way for more substantive cooperation between the two sides.

The Prime Minister underlined that Pakistan attached high importance to its relations with the EU as well as its historically close and cooperative bilateral ties with EU member states.

He also underscored the importance of sustained high level exchanges to further strengthen the growing partnership. Noting the 60th anniversary of Pakistan-EU relations this year, the Prime Minister stressed that this milestone should be commemorated by both sides in a fitting manner.

The Prime Minister stressed the importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan as well as highlighted the unprecedented level of cooperation that Pakistan had extended to the international community in regard to Afghanistan, especially since the developments of August last year.

Dr. Riina Kionka thanked the Prime Minister for receiving her and expressed her resolve to work for further deepening of EU-Pakistan relations during her tenure in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, in a message on the occasion of the National Day of Minorities, the PM said that the government was taking steps to mainstream minorities in the country by ensuring a level-playing field for them.

“The idea is to enable and facilitate all segments of society, particularly our non-Muslim citizens, to take a full part in the national life,” he said.

PM Sharif said the government was taking steps to provide equal opportunities to minorities such as allocation of special quota at representative fora, and also in educational institutions and other services.

He mentioned other measures for the uplift of poor minorities including dedicated financial support for their emancipation.

He said mending the fault lines of socio-religious exploitation besides eradicating its causes was the cornerstone of the government’s policies.

The prime minister mentioned that National Day of Minorities, which is celebrated on the 11th of August every year, serves to highlight the contributions that the non-Muslim Pakistani citizens made to national development.

“This day we express our gratitude to our minority communities for their meritorious services for the uplift of the motherland,” he said. “The day also reminds us of our constitutional, religious and political responsibility to protect their rights and freedoms.”

He said Islam is a religion of peace, harmony, and tolerance. According to the Holy Quran, there is no compulsion in matters of religion, he added.

He said the Quranic precept coupled with the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) provides a basis for the principle enunciated by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his historic address to the nation on 11th August 1948.

Emphasizing freedom of religion and sanctity of the lives and property of minorities, he said the right had further been statutorily formalized in the country’s constitution.

PM Sharif said the government stands committed to these obligations and officially celebrates the 11th of August to reiterate its resolve towards the achievement of the noble objective of building an inclusive society in line with the vision of the Quaid-i-Azam.

He reaffirmed the coalition government’s resolve for the betterment and welfare of minorities and their fullest inclusion in national life and development.

“I will also avail myself of this opportunity to call upon our brothers and sisters from all minority communities to keep playing their role for the promotion of an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual accommodation,” he said.