Indian aggression led to the brink of war in 2019: FM Qureshi

Addressing trainees at the National Defense University (NDU), Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi alleged that Indian aggression pushed the South Asian region towards war in February 2019.

Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that we are really going through “exciting times” where the world is changing rapidly. The challenge for us is to be vigilant at all times to adapt to the new realities, in order to advance our national interests and prevent harm to them.

He said that Pakistan is located at the crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and China. Therefore, better communication is essential to promote our economic interests and to keep our cultural and historical ties alive.

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The Foreign Minister said that CPEC is an important step in terms of connectivity. Pakistan sees this framework as a game-changer not only for itself but also for the region. Gwadar Port is one of the important components of the CPEC Framework. Why is Gwadar so important in this regard? Responding to the question, the Foreign Minister said that first, it is the only natural deep seaport in the world. Second, it combines BRI and Silk Road projects.

Third, being the shortest route to Central Asia and Afghanistan, it is well suited to serve as a gateway to the region. Fourth, it is a potential regional trade hub from Europe to Eurasia. Therefore, we see Gwadar as a hub of immense potential for regional cooperation and shared economic benefits.

He added that many countries have expressed interest in participating in the CPEC project. He added that Pakistan would welcome other countries to invest in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to be set up under the CPEC. 

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Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi further said in his address that our aim is to promote employment opportunities and regional trade links. We see CPEC as a game-changer not only for us but also for the region. Afghanistan is part of our shared responsibility. Pakistan has played its full role in promoting dialogue and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan had always said that there is no need for a military solution to the war in Afghanistan and a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s own interest. We have been active in helping Afghanistan. Since August 15, we have facilitated the evacuation of 30,000 diplomatic and NGO staff, and media personnel from 37 countries and international organizations.

“We have been emphasizing that the withdrawal of international forces, along with progress in the inter-Afghan dialogue, must be responsible,” he said. Pakistan believes that the greatest opportunity at the moment is the unity of the international community for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, anti-peace elements are once again trying to change the narrative against Pakistan.

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The Federal Minister said that the biggest threat to our region and global security is the product of Hindutva ideology. In February 2019, Indian aggression pushed South Asia to the brink of war. Our response was to counter, provoke, and extinguish this fire. We managed to achieve all three goals.

We exercised our right to self-defense and demonstrated our ability to thwart any external adventure. Pakistan has consistently maintained that lasting peace in South Asia depends on a just solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. India has a responsibility to create a conducive environment for a meaningful and fruitful relationship with Pakistan.

Following the illegal and unilateral actions of India on 5th August 2019, under the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan, we raised the Kashmir cause around the world with renewed vigor and determination, and against the grave human rights violations in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. We highlighted the threats to international peace and security posed by Indian aggression in all available forums.

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The situation in Kashmir has been discussed three times a year in the UN Security Council after a gap of 55 years. Pakistan will continue to provide moral, political, and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris until they are granted their legitimate and inalienable right, the right to self-determination, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

Despite India’s provocations, Pakistan opened the Kartarpur Corridor in November 2019, giving Sikhs around the world, including in India, access to their holiest sites. Imran Khan’s vision for the region and Pak-India relations includes peaceful coexistence, interfaith harmony, and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Contacts between the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and Bangladesh in the region indicate an improvement in bilateral relations. Pakistan has long-standing friendly relations with other regional partners such as Nepal and Sri Lanka based on mutual trust and respect. We are committed to maintaining and strengthening our relationship with the United States all of which are very valuable and mutually beneficial.

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We are well aware of the importance of the United States and want to move our relationship forward in a practical and non-emotional way. As far as the Muslim Ummah is concerned, Pakistan has always tried to act as a bridge and promote dialogue. We have expanded and deepened our traditional partnerships with other countries, including Bahrain, Iran, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

Following the escalation of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in May 2021, Pakistan sought to convene a special session of the UN General Assembly with Turkey, Sudan, and Palestine. Pakistan has always reiterated its principled support for its pre-1967 border position and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, a viable, independent, and connected Palestinian state.

As a founding member of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Pakistan has been actively associated with the organization and has been working to strengthen its various institutions. Pakistan hosts two major OIC bodies, the COMSTECH (Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation of the OIC) and the Islamic Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture.

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Pakistan has deep fraternal relations with Saudi Arabia. Our relationship extends from the spiritual to the strategic and economic nature. Our Pakistani compatriots based in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, especially in the UAE, are contributing to Pakistan’s economy with record remittances.

Our bilateral relations with Iran are linked by historical, religious, cultural, and deep spiritual ties. We have consistently maintained excellent relations with Iran despite various pressures. Moreover, Pakistan has supported many African countries in their struggle for independence. Pakistan has been playing a key role in maintaining peace and security through UN peacekeeping missions for the last seven decades.

Now, under the Engage Africa Initiative, we are opening up new avenues for economic diplomacy and cooperation with our African friends. The convening of the Pakistan-Africa Trade Development Conference in Nairobi in January 2020 was an important step in this direction. Pakistan has opened five new missions in Africa, and upgraded missions in Niger and Tanzania to ambassador level.

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Prime Minister Imran Khan stressed the need for debt relief for developing countries in the wake of the Corona epidemic. We are at the forefront of the fight against climate change as well as efforts to curb illicit financial flows. Pakistan is the country that has been the most vocal against the rising tide of Islamophobia.

Pakistan has raised this issue on various high-level platforms. We are playing our part in advancing and reforming the UN multilateral system. According to the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, we are taking steps for the welfare of overseas Pakistanis on a priority basis. “The FM portal has been expanded this month to facilitate and assist Pakistanis, and to improve the delivery of services to Pakistani missions abroad. We are also working to simplify the consular process”: Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

The Foreign Minister also answered the questions of the trainees at the National Defense University and appreciated their academic pursuits.

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