LAHORE - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday asked India not to delay the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor and settle all differences through bilateral dialogue. Addressing a press conference flanked by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar here at the Governor House, he said despite tension with India in the wake of Pulwama incident, Pakistan participated in the talks on Kartarpur Corridor. Pakistan wanted to move forward and improve its relations with India, he added.
India, he said, should not to shy away from the Kartarpur Corridor talks scheduled for April 2 (Tuesday). Pakistan was more than willing to address all the Indian reservations, he added. He said Pakistan had adopted a principled stance that the Kartarpur Corridor should be opened for the Sikh community residing all over the world. Pakistan desired to open more border crossings for pilgrims from India, he added.
Qureshi said the new visa policy was part of the government’s efforts to attract foreign tourists to the country. The people from 50 countries would be provided visa on arrival, while those from 172 countries would have e-visa facility. The government wanted to remove barriers and promote tourism, he added.
About the FATF sanctions, the minister said the country had been placed in the grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. However, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was taking initiatives to avert the country being put in its black list. Being in FATF’s grey list caused a loss of $10 billion to the country while the cost of being included in the black list would be even higher, he added. Regarding petroleum products price-hike, the minister said: “The common man is sensible enough and does not hold the Pakistan Threek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and Prime Minister Imran Khan responsible for it as well as economic degradation in the country.”
Pakistan, he said, had been facing 6.6 per cent economic deficit when the PTI government took over. Everybody knew that the claims of stability of dollar, made by former finance minister Ishaq Dar, were cosmetic and untenable. The PNL-N government did nothing to control the line losses of Water and Power Development Authority and rectify the infrastructure faults, he added.
The foreign minister said Finance Minister Asad Umar would succeed in making the economy stable soon. The country was on the verge of bankruptcy when Prime Minister Imran Khan took over the office and now the national economy was recoverning due to timely financial assistance received from the friendly and brotherly countries, he added.
Qureshi said Asad Umar had managed to get concessions from the International Monetray Fund (IMF), which was putting up tough conditions To a question, the minister dispelled the impression that the 18th Amendment was being done away with. The Federal Government to had asked the provinces to reconsider their financial needs, he added.
He clarified that with abolishing of the concurrent list under the 18th Amendment, all economic resources had been handed over to the provinces, leaving the Centre with almost no resources at its disposal.
The Prime Minister wanted the provinces to give viable financial resources to the Centre in the 7th National Finance Commission Award, he added. About PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, he said he should continue to serve the nation, but in ‘his personal capacity’.
Qureshi advised Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilalwal Bhutto Zardari should get rid of the corrupt elements in the party if he desired to revive his party in Punjab. Yusuf Raza Gilani was rejected by the people of Multan for his alleged corruption while his two sons and candidates had lost 2018 general elections and 2019 by-polls, he added.
Recalling his own close ties with Shaheed Benazir Bhutto while being in the PPP, Qureshi said Bilawal should not allow Gilani to sit on the stage and address the workers on the occasion of death anniversary of PPP founder Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Gilani along with many others was responsible for the fall of PPP in Punjab, he added.
With such corrupt people on his side, Bilawal should not dream of a train march in Punjab like he had undertaken in Sindh, he said.
The foreign minister asked Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to shun prejudices and avoid doing politics on non-issues. The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) had a limited scope while Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ‘Ehsas’ programme was wider in scope covering more areas, he added.
He said Bilawal Bhutto might ask for another survey if he was not satisfied but should not oppose a programme for political gains. Qureshi said the victory of PTI candidate in the PP-218 Multan by-polls in PP-218 by-polls was a proof that the masses had rejected the politics of self-interest by the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Both the parties had launched a joint candidate to defeat the PTI in the by-polls, but they failed.
He said all the opposition parties had become politically and ideologically bankrupt. Once at the daggers drawn, they had joined hands against the PTI, but they failed in their mission as the masses gave their verdict in favour of the PTI candidate.
He said the PTI had gained voters’ support despite negative propaganda by the opposition parties.
The foreign minister also condoled the death of Sardar Fateh Buzdar, three-time Member Punjab Assembly (MPA) and father of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar.
In the beginning, Governor Punjab felicitated the foreign minister on the victory in the Multan by-polls.