Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday highlighted priorities of his government’s foreign policy, which he said was based on promoting peaceful and friendly relations with the world community, reaching out to regional and international partners with focus on “trade, not aid” and developing a consensus-based approach to counter terrorism.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of a new block at the Foreign Office building here, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan intended to promote peaceful and friendly relations with the world community particularly with its neighbours. He said the country was playing its due role in promoting regional and international peace and enhancing mutual co-operation through its Foreign Office.
The Prime Minister said that his government’s priorities in the domestic arena included fighting terrorism, reviving the economy, resolving energy crisis and improving governance. “Our foreign policy is based on four key priorities such as building a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood, reaching out to regional and international partners, focusing on ‘trade not aid’ and developing a consensus-based approach to counter terrorism,” he added.
In order to realise the policy objectives, the Prime Minister said that 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 interest, engagement with Europe, and enhance solidarity with the Islamic world.
He said that the government’s emphasis on economic dimensions of the national agenda was reflected in all these interactions, and the recent approval of GSP Plus by the EU testified the fact. “Our message to the world is peace and friendship. We seek co-operation based on mutual interest,” he said, adding that “our effort is to transform the existing friendly ties into mutually beneficial partnerships.” Referring to the challenges, the Prime Minister said “we remain conscious that the nation also confronts formidable foes – the menace of extremism and terrorism as well as challenging economic situation.” He, however, expressed optimism that Pakistan would overcome these challenges with the co-operation of the world community.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the world had become a global village and Pakistan could not afford isolation at any level. He said it was the responsibility of Pakistan’s diplomats to work hard for strengthening relations with the world community particularly with the neighbours to promote trade. The Premier stressed the need for bringing changes in the traditional diplomacy to make it according to the needs of the present era.
The Prime Minister said that diplomacy was the first line of defence for any State, adding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomats played an indispensable role in promoting peace and fostering regional and international co-operation.
He said that conventional diplomacy had now acquired new dimensions and specialised streams like multi/bilateral/economic diplomacy coupled with public diplomacy and services streams were now more relevant. Highlighting the vital role of foreign missions, he said that “in modern ages the political diplomacy goes hand in hand with economic diplomacy and our missions abroad must enhance their skills of economic diplomacy.”
The Prime Minister said the role of Pakistani missions abroad in the enhancement of trade, investment and economic co-operation was critical and would be a yardstick by which their performance would be evaluated. He also asked the Foreign Office 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 to build a positive image of the country and to promote and safeguard its economic interests.
He further said the Foreign Office had to interact with provincial governments more often and facilitate provinces to establish contacts with other countries. “I expect the Foreign Office to harness our 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 our important role in the fight against terrorism.”
He also directed Pakistan’s missions abroad to pay special attention to the needs of overseas Pakistanis. He instructed the heads of missions abroad to maintain close liaison with the Pakistani community and oversee implementation of measures aimed at safeguarding their rights and interests as well as enhancing their well-being. Earlier, the outgoing Foreign Secretary and Ambassador-designate to the United States, Jalil Abbas Jilani, welcomed the Prime Minister and thanked him for his support and patronage to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is the first line of defence for Pakistan.
He also briefed the Prime Minister about the new building while highlighting the contribution of the Special Projects Division and Administration of the Foreign Ministry. The building with an area of 160,000 sq. ft has a basement, six reception areas, lobby and a conference hall. The new building will provide space for conferences and accommodate Foreign Ministry offices, which are located in rented buildings and containers.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by members of the Cabinet including the Minister for Information and Minister of State for Commerce, diplomats and senior government officials. Earlier, the Prime Minister inaugurated the new block of the Foreign Office building which has been named after former foreign minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan.
Authors: ALI HUSSAIN & ZAHEER ABBASI
Source: Business Recorder