Pakistan to further strengthen ties with major powers: FM

India committing massive human rights violations in IIOJ&K: FM

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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Thursday said that using various diplomatic tools, Pakistan consolidated friendships and strengthened bilateral relations with major powers and key partners across all regions.

The foreign minister, addressing a ceremony at the Institute of Policy Studies (NIPS) of the National University of Science and Technology, said under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s leadership, Pakistan proactively and consistently advanced its diplomatic objectives both bilaterally and multilaterally.

“We have put to use various tools of diplomacy be it economic diplomacy, science diplomacy, public diplomacy or digital diplomacy, to lead the advocacy for durable peace, inclusive growth and shared development,” he remarked.

He said terms like “multidimensional diplomacy” was reflective of new trends and realities as there were multiple players, factors and forces, influencing the conduct of diplomacy.

He said multidimensional diplomacy currently used tools ranging from economy, cyberspace, digital technology, science and innovation to culture and even people-to-people linkages.

He said the world had entered the era of battles of narratives with a huge shift in the role of media, their impact on all spheres of life and modern technology being used to influence opinions and push agendas.

Moreover, as another external factor, the COVID-19 pandemic had upended the global economic systems.

“We see COVID-19 is not just a global health crisis but a catalyst for long-term geopolitical shifts. COVID vaccines too have aided diplomacy with countries competing for influence through their vaccines and related technology,” he added.

Qureshi said in the backdrop of those shifting trends, geopolitics was reorienting to accommodate new actors and emerging factors and considerations. Pakistan’s foreign policy must respond adequately.

He said Pakistan was a leading voice at multilateral forums with strong advocacy on issues of sustainable and equitable development, climate change, debt relief, corruption and illicit financial flows as well as Islamophobia.

He said 2021 had also been an exciting year of reform at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the strategic planning reform under Vision FO in 2020, became a reality in 2021.

He said the Foreign Ministry launched robust Economic Diplomacy agenda as well as Public Diplomacy Initiatives besides engaging in large-scale digital reform and leveraging Science Diplomacy.

Referring to the Afghanistan situation, he told the gathering that post-15 August 2021, Pakistan geared its diplomacy for garnering regional and international consensus for constructive and sustained engagement with the new interim authorities in Afghanistan to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and an economic meltdown.

He also highlighted Pakistan’s effort including the establishment of the six-country format of immediate neighbors, participation in Moscow format, the Troika Plus Meeting held in Islamabad and above all the Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers hosted by Pakistan in December 2021.

He said economic diplomacy had assumed higher priority in the conduct of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

This effort to promote and expand our trade and investment portfolio led to concrete achievements including ​improvement by 39 points in Pakistan’s ranking in Ease of Doing Business, ​7% increase in trade with Africa, and ​an increase of over USD 2 billion in the export of information technology and IT-based sectors.

Under the digital reform agenda, Qureshi said Pakistan had launched the Foreign Minister’s Portal that provides the diaspora direct access to all 114 Pakistan Missions abroad based in 87 countries with a view to efficient handling and addressing of their issues.

He also mentioned the initiatives like Roshan Digital Accounts providing digital banking solutions to Non-Resident Pakistanis and ‘Automation of Power of Attorney’, to resolve a perennial problem of overseas Pakistanis.

Apprising the audience of the government’s Public Diplomacy initiative, Foreign Minister Qureshi said last year, the country celebrated 70 years of diplomatic relations with Argentina, China, Germany, Spain and Thailand. In 2022, the country would celebrate key milestones in friendships with UAE, US, UK and the EU.

In 2021, he said the foreign ministry also launched a second FM Honours’ List, to recognize 25 bright Leaders under 40 from the overseas Pakistani community.

“Pakistan is pursuing a proactive foreign policy with a focus on the global agenda. The future is unpredictable but we have the resilience and experience to deal with the challenges ahead,” Qureshi remarked.

Meanwhile, to another official commitment, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says India is committing massive human rights violations in illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where innocent civilians are facing the oppression of Hindutva mindset.

He was speaking at an Arts Exhibition held in Islamabad to pay tributes to Kashmiris’ just struggle for their Right-to-Self Determination.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said India of Gandhi and Nehru is being overtaken by the Hindutva mindset, which is dangerous for regional tranquility and harmony.

Talking about the recent incident of harassment of a Muslim girl in Indian state of Karnataka, the Foreign Minister said minorities, especially Muslims, are facing the worst kind of discrimination in India.

He said humanity is suffering under Hindutva mindset and the world community should take notice of Karnataka-like incidents.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed the belief that Kashmiris’ struggle for achieving their right to Self Determination will succeed.

Later talking to the media, the Foreign Minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Russia will further strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.

He said matters pertaining to mutual interest will come under discussion during the visit.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the situation in Afghanistan will also be discussed. He said Russia has played an important and positive role in Afghanistan.

Answering a question regarding relations with India, the Foreign Minister said Pakistan wants peace in the region. He said issues can be resolved through dialogue.

To another question, he said separate letters were written to Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif regarding legislation for the establishment of South Punjab province. He said still a reply from both the leaders was awaited.

He said he has written another letter to both the leaders on the same issue quoting statistics of a report published by UNDP.

It is pertinent to mention that UNDP in its report has revealed that South Punjab is the most backward and underdeveloped area of Punjab.

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