Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Tuesday the dynamic and robust foreign policy being pursued under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s guidance has started paying dividends as Pakistan achieved numerous milestones at the global and regional forums.
Addressing a joint press conference along with members of the Federal Cabinet about the incumbent government’s performance, Qureshi said a visible shift during the last two years of the PTI regime was witnessed on the foreign policy front.
Explaining the achievements driven by four main objectives, he said Pakistan effectively countered Indian agenda of pushing the country into diplomatic isolation with effective representation of its narrative, helping forge new understanding at the regional and international levels.
The Indian manoeuvres were effectively defeated, which was evident from the regional context where all the neighbouring countries — including China and Nepal — had rejected New Delhi’s expansionist designs, he added.
Ties with China, Turkey
About the Pakistan-China time-tested ties, the foreign minister said the two countries succeeded in transforming their strategic partnership into an economic one as they had shared objectives. He said both nations wished to strengthen these ties further.
Qureshi further underlined how during PM Imran’s visit to Turkey, a decision was taken on new trade and investment framework.
Besides the expanding partnership with the European Union (EU), the government also launched the ‘Engage Africa’ initiative to put their footprint in the largest continent with immense trade and business opportunities.
“It’s because of the economic diplomacy that the initiative was launched,” he said, adding that trade and business officers were being deputed in the region.
The foreign minister said the prime minister’s economic coronavirus relief initiative for developing countries also drew an immense response from the United Nations (UN) apart from his effective portrayal of issues such as Islamophobia.
India and the Kashmir issue
The Kashmir issue — which had been by design treated as a back-burner matter in the past — was now made an international cause due to PM Imran’s hectic efforts, he said.
Qureshi mentioned that the PTI government effectively raised India’s actions — including the Modi administration’s illegal steps, Hindutva policy against minorities, and ceasefire violations, among others — at all global forums.
The foreign minister noted that it was due to these efforts that the UN Security Council (UNSC) discussed the Kashmir issue thrice during the one-year period. The UN representatives’ two reports from 2018 and 2019 over Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) had fully exposed India.
He said the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) had also issued a joint statement over IIOJK, condemning the illegal and unilateral Indian actions.
Afghanistan and the peace process
Qureshi said the world had spent billions of dollars in Afghanistan and tried a military solution in the war-ravaged country but now the whole world, including the United States, had been openly acknowledging PM Imran’s consistent stance that only a political solution was key to bringing lasting peace in the neighbouring nation.
“The whole world acknowledged Pakistan’s vital role in supporting and facilitating the Afghan peace and reconciliation process. [US Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo had a telephonic conversation with me and he appreciated Pakistan’s role in this regard,” he added.
He said the intra-Afghan dialogue would commence soon and further the objectives of bringing durable peace in the country. “Now, Pakistan is seen as part of the solution instead of as part of the problem,” he underlined.
Qureshi also mentioned different reforms in the foreign ministry, including setting up crises management cell during the coronavirus pandemic and facilitating the return of 214,000 stranded expatriates through arrangements of special flights and setting up state-of-the-art Foreign Services Academy in the old Chinese embassy building.
The reforms also included strategic communication cell, issuance of e-visa, and FM direct mobile app through which ambassadors and foreign office officials across the world could sent their suggestions to him directly.
Mazari slams FO over Kashmir
Interestingly, however, in rare rebuke late last week, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari had said the Foreign Office “let Kashmiris and Prime Minister Imran Khan down” in their struggle for the Kashmir cause.
It was only through PM Imran’s “single-handed efforts” that the narrative surrounding Kashmir changed in the global arena, Mazari had said while addressing an event in Islamabad. “If the Foreign Office had carried forward the prime minister’s narrative, the situation would have been vastly different today,” she had said.
Mazari had stressed that no matter the global politics, the world would certainly have listened to Pakistan on the issue had the Foreign Office taken action. “But our diplomats chose leisurely hotel stays, dressing in three-piece suits and heavily-starched clothes, and speaking over the telephone,” she added.
The human rights minister had said Pakistan had to move away from traditional diplomacy and required adoption of modern methods to do that. “The Kashmiri struggle is a just struggle. Indian occupation forces are using the debasement of women as a political tool,” she had said.