Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Thursday said that Pakistan desired to have peaceful relations with all countries in the region and beyond as peace and stability in its neighbourhood was an essential prerequisite for economic prosperity and social sector development.
“We do not wish to join any camp politics as Pakistan has successfully maintained good relations with both the US and China in the past, and would continue to do so. Rather than seeing these relationships as a zero-sum game, we believe that both relationships can coexist and flourish simultaneously,” he said while speaking at a session titled “Pak-US Partnership: A Sheet Anchor for Peace, Security & Prosperity”, organized by the think-tank “Council on Foreign Relations”.
He said the world’s security challenges had grown increasingly complex. “We are witnessing shared threats and challenges that transcend borders such as military conflicts, terrorism, climate change, food insecurity, rising number of refugees, growing economic divide between the rich and the poor, and the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. These grave issues continue to affect billions of lives worldwide and undermine global peace and security.”
The shared challenges, he added, provided a new and urgent impetus for Pakistan and the United States to strengthen their partnership in pursuit of mutually agreed and mutually beneficial solutions.
The prime minister said both the countries had prospered whenever they had worked together.
“We share common values and are committed to the same national and international goals,”
he said, adding the bilateral agenda encompassed security cooperation, trade and investment, IT, energy, climate change, agriculture as well as overall connectivity and enhanced people-to-people linkages through greater education and cultural exchanges.
“Our joint efforts such as the Green Alliance Framework will help counter climate change, build resilient infrastructure, improve public health, and combat food insecurity.”
On economic collaboration, PM Kakar said the revival of the Pakistan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) had recently been witnessed after a gap of eight years. The forum had taken momentous decisions for now and future which should pave the way for enhanced investment in Pakistan.
“The United States is our largest export destination. Over the past year, Pakistan’s total exports to the US reached an impressive US$ 8.4 billion. We need to work on US investment in Pakistan,” he added.
As a caretaker prime minister, he said, he was making it a priority to improve Pakistan’s business climate, and attract US capital and expertise.
“More than 80 US enterprises are already operating and thriving in Pakistan, contributing to our mutual prosperity. This constitutes a good infrastructure for investment on which we can build further investment partnership,” he added.
To attract FDI (foreign direct investment), he said, Pakistan had recently set up the Special Investment Facilitation Council to make it an attractive destination for investment and innovation in key areas such as agriculture, mining and minerals, information technology, energy and defence production.
Speaking about the climate change issue, the prime minister said Pakistan had still recovered from the last year’s devastating climate-driven floods. Despite contributing less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Pakistan was among the countries most affected by the climate change.
Pakistan, he said, was working hard to mitigate carbon emissions and transition to renewables. “But we and other developing nations cannot shoulder the burden alone,” he added.
The prime minister said the resurgence of terrorist threat by dangerous entities such as TTP and ISIS-K was a matter of grave concern for Pakistan and the entire international community.
He said a stable Afghanistan continued to remain an important foreign policy priority for Pakistan and the United States. “We welcome the US direct engagement with the Afghan government, and on our part, would continue to push them to honour their commitments to women rights, girls’ education and ensuring that Afghan soil is not used for terrorist attacks against other countries.”
“Pakistan today stands ready to work with the United States and all partners who share our vision of a peaceful, prosperous world where cooperation triumphs over conflict.”
Replying to a question about holding general elections in Pakistan, the prime minister said the mandate of the caretaker government was to facilitate the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold free, fair and transparent elections.
However, he said, there was a constitutional requirement of delimitation of different constituencies after the new population census in the country which would required around three months to complete. So the general elections, he added, would probably be held by end of January 2024.
Responding to another query with respect to the terrorism threats in the region, PM Kakar said due to the terrorist attacks from across the border, “my soldiers and other people are being targeted and killed on daily basis”.
He said although the imminent threat was for Pakistan but for mid term, it could spread in the entire region.
He said the Hindutwa ideology of the Indian BJP government was being expanded beyond India and the region as recently it killed a Canadian citizen in Canada.
Replying to a question with respect to Pakistan’s relations with China, the prime minister said Pakistan enjoyed strategic relationship with China.
“Pakistan and China have a lot in common in terms of the emerging threats within the region, there are commonality of certain issues, and we share the common goals with which we will stand shoulder to shoulder with each other.”
He recalled that in 2013 when the world was calling Pakistan a failed state, China moved forward and put a sizable investment under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the country, which helped in reviving its deteriorating economy.
The first phase of CPEC had already been realized while the second phase was under progress, he added.