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Talks only way to solve Kashmir issue: Shah Mehmood

ISLAMABAD -UNS– Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stressed on Monday that Pakistan’s interests are the first priority as the foreign policy will begin and end at the country.

Speaking at his maiden press conference in Islamabad, Qureshi maintained that Pakistan is facing immense challenges and the government is determined for development.

PTI Government would pursue a bi-partisan approach to foreign policy issues and take the opposition on board in addressing these challenges, he added.

The Foreign Minister said that efforts are being made to isolate Pakistan but the government wishes to maintain peace and stability in the region.He said it would be his endeavor to build national consensus on foreign policy. He pointed out that some forces have been pushing Pakistan towards isolation in the absence of a regular foreign minister.

Qureshi declared that he would consult with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and also the former foreign ministers Hina Rabbani Khar and Khawaja Asif for their suggestions on foreign policy especially the forthcoming session of the UN General Assembly.
Foreign policy will be made here

Replying to a query, Qureshi categorically said, “There are pre-conceived notions about where the foreign policy of Pakistan is made. Let me be clear: The foreign policy will be made here at the Foreign Office.”

He said he would engage with all institutions including national security institutions for their input, similar to the policy across the world.

“Don’t you seek input from CIA and Pentagon? I am aware of their working and I will work for the betterment of Pakistan,” Qureshi told a foreign journalist who raised a question on the alleged interference of other institutions in formulation of foreign policy.

The Foreign Minister said he would focus on bridging the trust deficit between Pakistan and regional countries and emphasized on putting Pakistan first while fostering better relations with neighbouring countries.

Indo-Pak relations

Responding to a question over Indo-Pak relations, he said, “Both the countries are atomic powers. There is no capacity for adventure. Kashmir issue holds significance and India should understand this. Continuous negotiations are needed. We know the issues are tough and will not be solved overnight, but we have to engage.”

“Indian Prime Minister wrote to PM Imran Khan yesterday and congratulated him. He has also indicated the beginning of talks between the two countries,” he added.

Pak-US ties

On Pak-US relations, he commented, ” I am well informed of the priorities of US as I have worked with them in the past. Relations are based on equality and we also have our own priorities.”

Foreign Minister said he will listen to the US concerns and also put before them Pakistan’s viewpoint. He said bilateral relationship should be improved on the basis of mutual respect and equality.

Afghanistan, Pakistan have to work together

He expressed his intention to pay a visit to Kabul to move forward on bilateral agreement.

“I want to bring a solid message to the people of Afghanistan. The two countries share a future and geography, and we have to work together and begin our long journey,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said he wanted to tell the people of Afghanistan that the two countries needed to become the support base of each other, adding that Pakistan and Afghanistan had the capability to become a good support mechanism for each other.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Responding to a question about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said PTI had supported the mega project. He said he will discuss with his Chinese counterpart the future initiatives to be undertaken under CPEC for socio-economic development of the country.

“New Pakistan requires change in the attitudes. Diplomats should respect overseas Pakistanis. I also have a small part in 100-day action plan.

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