Bilawal seeks review of national anti-terror approach

By November 20, 2022Pakistan

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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stressed the need on Friday for a review of the country’s anti-terrorism approach to eliminate the factors that gave rise to militancy, as he repeated the country’s call on Afghanistan to take measures not to let its soil be used for attacks on its neighbour.
Bilawal held a press conference in Islamabad, the foreign minister emphasised that Pakistan would not take a solo flight to recognise the interim government of Afghanistan.
However, he underscored the importance of engaging with the Afghan Taliban to avert a humanitarian crisis there.
Bilawal said the residents of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had always supported peace and confronted terrorism. “Obviously if they feel, right or wrong, that terrorists are returning, they are protesting which is their right. Our responsibility as the government and the state is to ensure peace, rule of law and the state’s writ,” he said.
“I suggested to one of the questions before you that perhaps it is time for an in-camera internal review on decisions regarding terrorism and internal security,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with re-examining the approach on counter-terrorism viz-a-viz developments in the region,” he added.
Bilawal said that peace in Afghanistan was crucial for Pakistan and the region, and urged the international community to get engaged with the interim government of Afghanistan to avert a humanitarian crisis. He also called on the Afghan authorities to fulfil their pledges, especially the human rights and women’s education.
“When we came to power, we decided to engage with Afghan authorities regardless of our differences for greater national interest [but] we won’t take a solo flight on the matter of recognition of the Afghan government,” he added.
When asked if peace in Afghanistan meant countering the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), he said it was important to internally review the policy. He said: “I never think it [TTP] is as easy as black and white – either war or negotiations with them.”
He mentioned that the nation’s support helped ending terrorism from the tribal areas. Speaking about the closure of Chaman border point, he said terrorist attacks on Pakistan’s security forces from the Afghan side led to closure of the border and urged Afghanistan not to let its soil used against its neighbour.
Foreign policy objectives
Bilawal said the coalition government had put in good efforts to restore the foreign policy objectives by holding ‘meaningful’ high-level diplomatic engagements. He stressed the country’s foreign policy was on positive trajectory.
He hoped that the policy adopted by the coalition government would help achieve the goals of development by addressing important issues, including counter-terrorism and security and economic cooperation. “The government’s focus is on prioritising the national interest.
Pak-US ties de-hyphenated
The minister underscored the importance of maintaining a balanced relationship and a positive outreach with all countries, including the United States and China. He added that Pakistan’s relations with the United States had been “de-hyphenated”.
He added that problems emerged whenever there appeared a lack of coordination between the two countries. However, “now we have very positive and productive engagements with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a positive direction with regard to Pakistan-US relations has become visible.
Similarly, Bilawal told reporters, soon after assuming office of the foreign minister, he made his first visit to China and engaged with the Chinese leadership to further strengthen economic and political ties between the two neighbours.
He added that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, return of Pakistani students to the Chinese universities and educational institutions besides the bilateral cooperation in the fight against the menace of terrorism were the focus of his engagements with Beijing.
GSP-Plus status
The foreign minister said that a persistent implementation of both action plans mainly countering money-laundering and terror-financing would remain high on the government’s agenda. He noted the EU’s GSP-Plus helped the country’s export outlook witness an exponential 80% growth in recent times.
He also mentioned Pakistan’s active participation in international blocs and organisations, including the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Conference of Parties (COP27) and the Group of 77.
However, when asked specifically about former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan about “leaving the American conspiracy behind”, the foreign minister said: “We welcome the latest U-turn of Mr. Khan.”
“There had never been a conspiracy by the US as stated by Imran Khan earlier. Pakistan and the US enjoy historic relationship in the interest of their peoples,” he said. He termed the current political climate in the country ‘a storm in the teacup’ and regretted the apathy of Imran amid several challenges facing the country.
The minister emphasised focusing on ‘trade instead of aid’ with other countries to achieve economic stability. He regretted that the wrongdoings of the past resulted in agricultural and educational crisis in the country. He also urged continued support at national and international level to minimise the impact of climate change.
Bilawal said Pakistan wanted a peaceful engagement with all its neighbours to ensure regional development and prosperity. However, he pointed out the involvement of a neighbouring country in carrying out nefarious activities of terrorism in Balochistan.
On the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline, the foreign minister called for resolution of issues and hurdles through the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) so as to get maximum benefit from the development project. He called for dialogue and diplomacy to address the common challenges of the world.
Terming the killing of senior journalist Arshad Sharif a ‘traumatic incident’, he said that serious efforts were being made with regard to proper conclusion of the case. He said that the Pakistan Peoples Party always prioritised the issues pertaining to the Pakistani citizens rising above politics.
 
(WITH INPUT FROM APP)
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