ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan’s government would focus more on improving ties with immediate neighbors as part of its foreign policy, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters on Friday.
“Stability and peace in Pakistan and the region is our priority,” he said after Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the Foreign Office.
Talks between Pakistan and India had been deadlocked, he pointed out, saying that both countries needed to determine how to move forward.
“It takes two to tango,” he remarked.
Qureshi confirmed receiving a letter from his Indian counterpart and said that Pakistan would continue to have solid stance on issues of national interests, adding that the country would not be apologetic.
Responding to questions posed by the media, the foreign minister said that the Indian media had helped their government in shaping narratives. “I request you all to help and guide us in building narratives too.”
Urging to present a unified front to the world, he said the country needed peace.
“Peace is our objective. Stability is our need. Economic development is our priority.”
“I want to ask the Indian foreign minister what other option the two countries have other than holding dialogue. I make no claims of bringing about a revolution. We need at least an enabling environment,” he said.
Qureshi denied ever having said that Pakistan would win the Kulbhushan Jadhav case in the International Court of Justice.
“I never said that.”
He said that he had only said that Pakistan would present its case in an effective manner. “How can I say we will win a case which is in court,” he added.
Answering another question, he said that Kashmir was still the core issue between Pakistan and India.
Qureshi said that peace and stability in Afghanistan was crucial for Pakistan.
Pakistan, he said, was assessing how it could help Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in his new peace initiative.
He said that Iran’s foreign minister would visit Islamabad between August 30 and 31.
Pakistan, he said, was aware of escalated tensions between Iran and the US.
The country, he said, wanted a stable and peaceful Iran with which it shared a lengthy border.
Foreign minister also said that China’s foreign minister would visit between September 8 and 9.
During this visit, he said, both sides would deliberate upon how to improve the deep-rooted ties between the two countries.
He said that Pakistan also wanted to analyse how to reap maximum benefit from CPEC.
Japan’s deputy foreign minister would also visit Pakistan by the end of this month, he said.
Commenting on SAARC’s effectiveness, Qureshi said that it was a good forum but member countries had not been able to take any advantage.
Commenting on the possibility of Pakistan being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), he said that he hoped that the country was never put on the black list.
Qureshi said that the Prime Minister had directed to make the Foreign Office more vibrant because it was the country’s first line of defence.
As part of the government’s austerity drive, he said he would not be living in five-star hotels during his foreign visits and travel in ‘business class’ instead of ‘first class’.
The foreign minister said that the government had decided to keep the size of delegations small, avoiding unnecessary travelling by government officials.
Ministers, he said, would need the prime minister’s permission before embarking upon a tour.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the Foreign Office where he was briefed by Qureshi on the country’s foreign policy towards India, Afghanistan, Iran, United States, China and Saudi Arabia.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Foreign Office’s Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal and other officials also briefed the prime minister on various issues.
The prime minister was also updated on the current situation in the occupied Kashmir, the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary.