ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday said Pakistan wants to promote peaceful and friendly relations with international community particularly with its neighbours to ensure peace and progress in the region.
Addressing inaugural ceremony of new block of the Foreign Office building here which has been attributed to the Former Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, the Prime Minister said Pakistan is playing its due role for promoting regional and international peace and enhance mutual cooperation through its Foreign Office. The Prime Minister said the new government is focusing on four point agenda which include weeding out terrorism, revival of economy, overcoming energy crisis and promoting trade at international level instead of getting aid.
He hoped that Pakistan will overcome its challenges with the cooperation of international community. The Prime Minister said Pakistan is working zealously for strengthening its relations with its neighbours including India and Afghanistan. He said, “We are committed to further expand our strategic ties with China and rebuild relation with United States on the basis of mutual respect and equality besides further strengthening ties with Islamic countries.”
The Prime Minister said the world has become a village and Pakistan cannot afford isolation at any level.
He said, “It is responsibility of our diplomats who are our ambassadors to work hard for strengthening relations with international community particularly with the neighbours and promote trade.” He stressed the need to bring changes in the traditional diplomacy to make it according to the needs of the present era.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said for any State, diplomacy was the first line of defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the country’s diplomats play an indispensable role in any nation’s efforts to promote peace, and foster regional and international cooperation.
He said conventional diplomacy had now acquired new dimensions and the specialized streams like multi and bilateral diplomacy and economic coupled with public diplomacy and services streams were now more relevant.
He mentioned the important part played by successive generations of the country’s diplomats including Mr. Jamshed Marker who was a non-career diplomat, Mr. Agha Shahi an ICS Officer, and Mr. Sheharyar Khan a career diplomat who all worked for the advancement of Pakistan’s key national objectives.
He expressed confidence that this institution would adopt to the changing paradigms in diplomacy and continue to adapt itself to the rapidly changing global environment and further promote the core national interests.
Prime Minister Sharif said Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah enunciated the key element of the country’s foreign policy when he said that “Our object should be peace within and peace without” and it still remains the defining element of foreign policy.
He said the Quaid made it clear that Pakistan wanted to live peacefully and maintain friendly relations with its immediate neighbours and with the world at large.
The Prime Minister said one of the most distinguishing features of the present times was the peaceful democratic transition in Pakistan. The vibrancy of today’s Pakistan is further reflected in an independent judiciary, a free media and a dynamic civil society, he added.
He said, “While the strengthening of democracy is indeed a matter of pride, we remain conscious that our nation also confronts formidable foes – the menace of extremism and terrorism and a challenging economic situation. Accordingly, our Government’s priorities in the domestic arena include: fighting terrorism, reviving the economy, resolving the energy crisis, and improving governance.”
The Prime Minister said the country’s foreign Policy was based on four key priorities: Firstly, build a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood; secondly, reach out to regional and international partners; thirdly, focus on “trade, not aid” And lastly, develop a consensus-based approach to counter terrorism.
He said in order to realize the policy objectives, important initiatives had been taken to improve relations with Afghanistan, resume dialogue with India, strengthen strategic partnership with China, re-build relations with the US on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest, engagement with Europe, and enhance our solidarity with the Islamic world.
He said, “Our emphasis on economic dimensions of the national agenda is reflected in all these interactions. The recent approval of GSP Plus by EU testifies to this fact. In short, our message to the world is of peace and friendship.”
He said Pakistan seeks cooperation based on mutual interest and “Our effort is to transform the existing friendly ties into mutually beneficial partnerships.”
Nawaz Sharif said in a globalised world, no one can afford isolation at any level. He said as public servants, isolation would make them oblivious to the needs of the people while at state level isolation leads to segregation from the world community.
He said aura of elitism was no longer relevant and the Foreign Service had to align itself towards public service.
He said the officers and Staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were the ambassadors of Pakistan and it was through them that world community interacts with the country.
He said that it was their responsibility to exhibit character which markets a positive image of the country, for which the officers had to increase public contacts.
He said in modern ages, the political diplomacy goes hand in hand with economic diplomacy and stressed that the Missions abroad must enhance their skills of economic diplomacy.
“Their role in the enhancement of trade, investment and economic cooperation is critical and would be a yardstick by which their performance would be evaluated,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the Foreign Office has to further strengthen institutional linkages with ministries of Commerce, Economic Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, Interior and organisations like Board of Investment and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan in order to build a positive image of Pakistan and to promote and safeguard economic interests of the country.
He said after devolution of powers to the provinces, the Foreign Office has to interact with Provincial Governments more often and facilitate provinces to establish contacts with other countries.
He expressed hope that the Foreign Office would harness its economic potential in tandem with other ministries and provincial governments in a proactive manner to attract foreign investments and to adopt a cohesive approach for implementing a positive advocacy campaign for the important role in the fight against terrorism.
Prime Minister Sharif said the country’s Missions also need to pay special attention to the needs of overseas and should increase their accessibility towards Pakistani community and adopt welcoming and responsive attitude towards them.
He called upon the Heads of Mission to maintain close liaison with the Pakistani community and oversee implementation of measures aimed at safeguarding their rights and interests in foreign lands and enhancing their well-being.
He assured the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the Government would do everything within its means to provide the necessary facilities and tools to enable them to fulfil their important responsibilities with dedication and efficiency.
The Prime Minister congratulated the officers and staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the inauguration of a new office block and commended the efforts of all those who had worked on this important project.
He said the new block was befittingly named after Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, who is a towering personality in every respect. He said he had personally known Sahabzada Yaqub for many years.
The Prime Minister termed Sahabzada Yaqub a rare example of the finest soldiers becoming an outstanding diplomat and rounding it all by learning and scholarship, that earned him respect of people in Pakistan and abroad.
He expressed gratitude to the friendly countries who had graciously contributed to this building’s interior decoration and said the elegant chandeliers from Turkey were one such shining example.
Former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador designate to United States Jalil Abbas Jilani in his remarks highlighted the salient features of the foreign policy and said Foreign Office was playing its due role to strengthen the relations with international community and neighbours.
He said positive results have been achieved due to new foreign policy guidelines given by the Prime Minister Muhmmad Nawaz Sharif.
Earlier, the Prime Minister inaugurated the new block of the Foreign Office building. The Prime Minister along with his Foreign Affairs team visited the new building. He was briefed about the new building.
The ceremony was also attended by Advisor to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartfaj Aziz, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, diplomats and officers of the Foreign Office.