ISLAMABAD: Foreign policy of the country came under strong criticism in the upper house of the Parliament during two days of debate as the Senators expressed dissatisfaction over the way the country was handling its international affairs and stressed to change it according to the ground realities that could protect national interests. Winding up the debate, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan being an independent and sovereign country would take every step to maintain its sovereignty continue its relations with the international community particularly neighbours and the Muslim world.
He said foreign policy always depends on internal stability and the government is committed to bring political and economic stability in the country. He said it is time to put our house in order and build a national consensus on various issues. He said as the new government stands for promoting national reconciliation there is also need to forge national integrity on foreign policy. He said the new government believes in the sovereignty of the parliament and assured the House that it would take the parliament into confidence while formulating all policies including foreign.
Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that although Pakistan enjoys good cordial relations with international community but the government will further focus on expanding deepening ties with all powers. He said the government would also concentrate on further improving relations with neighbours. The Foreign Minister said that although there great challenges in our neighbourhood but there are also great opportunities to move forward also. He said the government is determined to transform these challenges into opportunity. He said the government is focused on improving socio-economic situation of the country therefore more stress will be laid on improving trade and economic relations with other countries.
He said to improve national foreign policy, it has been decided to form two task forces in the Foreign Office. One of these task forces would work on reformulation of foreign policy keeping in view the future direction while the second task force would work on promoting trade and economic ties with the international community. Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in the globalised world, interdependence and regional dependence is growing and Pakistan has to adopt a multi-dimensional foreign policy that could achieve the goal of ensuring its food and energy security besides protecting its other interests. He said we have look towards East that is growing on fast pace and we are working to play an active role in those organizations active in Asia including ASEAN, SAARC, ECO and Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
He said Pakistan is also determined for promoting peace and stability in the region and would promote its relations with neighbourly countries especially China which is our great and time-tested friend. He said despite enjoying very close relations with China it is disappointing that trade relations between the two countries are not encouraging. He expressed the confidence that in future Pak-China trade relations will move forward with fast pace due to policies adopted by the present government.
The Foreign Minister said Pakistan keeping in view its national interests is maintaining close relations with all important countries. He said all outstanding issues on Pak-Iran gas pipeline project have been resolved and Pakistan is determined not only pursue the pipeline but would also help to further extend it to China. He said Pakistan supports Iran for peaceful use of nuclear energy and international community should resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue.
He said relations with Afghanistan are of vital importance for Pakistan and we stand for durable peace and stability there that is key to peace in the region also. He said Pakistan is determined to wipe out terrorism and extremism and would continue its cooperation but it believes that the issue could not only be solved through the use of power. He said there is need to bring socio-economic change in the Tribal Areas with a view to change their mind-set. He said in the forthcoming conference of the Paris Club, he would brief the international community about the socio-economic needs of FATA and its importance for bringing peace and curb terrorism. He said the government has adopted a three-prong comprehensive strategy to resolve the issue of terrorism. He said Pakistan would fulfill international obligations but would not compromise on its national interests. He said the government will promote dialogue with those who would surrender and not involve in violence to bring peace.
He made it clear that operations against terrorists on Pakistani soil would be carried by Pakistani forces and no foreign power would ever be allowed to carry operations on our soils. On Pak-India relations, the Foreign Minister said Pakistan is committed to peace process and would continue this process to move forward from resolution of problems. He said good relations between the two countries are of vital importance for peace and progress in the region. He said Pakistan would promote confidence building measures but both the countries would now have to move forwards towards resolution of issues. He said Pakistan intends to promote political, social and cultural relations with India besides enhancing people to people contact but it does not mean to neglect basic issues which have to be resolved. He said Kashmir is the major issue that is a threat to peace and it has to be resolved. He said Pakistan is committed for a just resolution of the issue according to aspirations of the Kashmiri people. He said both the countries can think over new options to resolve the issue but Pakistan would never change its principled stance and would continue to work for resolution of the issue that is acceptable to all stakeholders.
Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan intends to promote long term relations with the USA and he would visit the country in September this year to hold strategic dialogue with America to shape up new dimensions of relations in various fields. He said Pakistan is also determined to promote its relations with the European Union with particular focus on enhancing trade and economic ties with these countries.
The Foreign Minister said despite meager resources Pakistani missions abroad are performing tremendously and our diplomats have successfully protected national interests on bilateral and international forums. He said the government would provide more resources to improve the capacity of Pakistani missions. Earlier in their speeches the members said that foreign policy should be based on the principles that could ensure national security and safeguard sovereignty of the country.
They said that efforts should be made to improve relations with the neighboring countries to ensure peace and stability in the region and speed up economic activities. They said that Pakistan should lay greater emphasis on expanding ties with Afghanistan and bring peace there. They were of the view that the foreign policy has been failed to maintain good relations with the Islamic world and suggested that emphasis should be laid on focusing our ties with these countries besides efforts should be made to revitalize OIC to make it a true Representative of Muslim countries. They also stressed for taking steps to activate ECO. Those who took part in the discussion included Azam Khan Swati, Dr. Adbul Maalik, Nisar A. Memon, Moulna Gul Naseeb, S. M. Zafar, Muhammad Ismail Bulaidi, Ms. Saadia Abbasi, Javed Ashraf Qazi and Muhammad Abbas Komaili.-SANA