MULTAN: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday said that the political wing of the ISI was disbanded and termed it a positive development. While talking to the media persons at the local airport Sunday, Qureshi pointed out that ISI is a precious national institution and it wants to focus fully on counter-terrorism activities.
He said that the government was making all out efforts for repatriation of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui from US to Pakistan and expressed the hope that these efforts would bear fruit. He announced that her son has already been brought back to Pakistan.
He dispelled the impression that agriculture income tax was among the conditions for IMF bailout plan, neither was it a condition nor this tax was under consideration these days, FM said adding that this tax was a provincial subject. He said that IMF package was meant to fill the immediate resource gap and to pursue an economic stabilization plan. He reiterated resolve to improve ties with India saying that his visit to the neighboring country will help remove misunderstandings between the two countries.
He said that he would meet his counterpart Pranab Mukherjee and Indian leadership and bilateral issues will be discussed during the interaction. He hoped that his visit to India will help bridge the gulf and end trust deficit between the two countries and will prove fruitful in strengthening ties with India.
Foreign Minister said that it is our desire that both countries should live like friendly neighbors. He said that he will talk to the Indian leadership on water issue and added that Kashmir issue, already being a part of the composite dialogue between the two countries, will also be discussed.
About the Indian cricket team’s forthcoming tour to Pakistan, he said that the government wishes that Indian cricket squad should visit Pakistan. He added that government wants to improve people-to-people contact with India and exchange of delegations such as cultural delegations and sports teams will help improve relationships. He said that intellectuals, authors and sports persons of the two countries should have frequent interaction through exchange of delegations. Chief operating officer PCB Saleem Altaf said that Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Ijaz Butt will visit to India this month.
To a question, Qureshi categorically said there was no possibility of martial law in the country stating that the government, the parliament and the armed forces have unanimity of views on national issues. People may have this view but we do not agree with it, FM said adding that we are moving forward to combat challenges with consultations and understanding.
Mehmood Qureshi disclosed that after the Jan 13-16 expert level meeting scheduled to be held in Islamabad, he will invite FoDP Foreign Ministers to Pakistan in February next to move ahead with the plan to combat economic and security challenges confronting Pakistan.
About the IMF bailout package that is expected to be approved on Nov 24, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said its approval will pave the way for more assistance from other international financial institutions like World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Islamic Development Bank besides the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) Group and other countries.
It was interesting and heartening to note that our home-grown plan prepared by 16-member panel of country’s economic experts headed by Dr. Hafeez Pasha that has also been discussed by the federal cabinet and the talks with IMF had similarities in approach and experts believe it was the best suitable option Pakistan could avail under the given conditions, FM said.
He said that Rupee was gaining strength against dollar and capital flight has stopped and hoped that capital flight phenomenon will soon witness a reverse trend with the arrival of foreign remittances. FM said that an expert level meeting will be held in Islamabad from Jan 13 to Jan 16 during which projects will be identified and discussed in four sectors with the assistance promised by FoDP in its Nov 17 meeting in Abu Dhabi.-SANA