Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday urged the new US administration of President Joe Biden to recognise that the world, Pakistan and specifically India have changed a lot in the last four years, hence any engagement and relations should be developed on the basis of new ground realities.
Addressing a press conference in Multan, Qureshi said he had a “short message” for the new US administration. “In [these]four years [since the previous Democrat administration]the world has changed, the region has changed and Pakistan has changed and you have to engage with this new Pakistan,” said Qureshi, further adding, “India has changed. Is it the same shining and secular India today? No.”
He pointed out that voices from within India were rising and confirming that it is not a secular India, it is “a new face of Hindutva, a new practical demonstration of the thinking of the RSS. Minorities in India are finding themselves to be insecure.”
The foreign minister said based on this new reality, the PTI government hoped to engage with the new US administration based on a “new approach and new guidelines”.
“I understand that there is a lot of similarity [between]the United States’ current thinking and our policies,” said Qureshi. He further mentioned that he had penned a letter to the incoming US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, updating him about the trajectory of Pakistan’s current policies and looked forward to having more talks on the issue with him in the coming days.
“We have made a very big shift, from a geo-strategic position to a geo-economic position,” said the foreign minister.
‘You have constitutionally accepted Imran Khan as the prime minister’
Qureshi also addressed PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s suggestion of a no-confidence motion to the opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) against the incumbent government. The PPP chairman had hinted at such a course of action during a press conference in Larkana on Friday.
Qureshi welcomed the idea, terming it a “constitutional measure”. He added that the PTI government and its allies were confident that they are “in a position to confront and defeat it in a constitutional and parliamentary manner.”
“Now it is clear from this, Bilawal when you say you will bring a no-confidence motion, it means you have constitutionally accepted Imran Khan as [your]prime minister,” said the foreign minister, adding that Imran Khan was the prime minister, which is why Bilawal wanted to bring a no-confidence motion against him.
In light of the above situation, he advised the PPP chairman to “stop saying that he [Imran Khan] is [a]selected prime minister, he is [an]elected prime minister and [the]people of Pakistan have elected him.”
He said the no-confidence motion vindicated his stance that the PDM was an “unnatural” alliance since they first agree on a united position then eventually disagree, referring to the PDM’s changing stances on the issue of resignations and the long march to Islamabad.
“They will scatter and you are seeing that has [already]started.”
Will never hurt interests of an allied state
In response to a question from a reporter regarding reservations of certain allied Arab states over recent decisions taken by Pakistan, the foreign minister clarified, “We haven’t signed any agreement that hurts the interests of an allied state.”
“We have never done, and will never do such an agreement which causes damage to any brother Muslim state.”
Qureshi pointed out Pakistan’s relationship with Azerbaijan in this regard. He said Turkey and Pakistan had openly supported and congratulated Azerbaijan on its “big success” in reclaiming its occupied territory. As a result of that support, Qureshi said, after Azerbaijan’s victory, the flags of Turkey and Pakistan were waved in the streets by the citizens of Azerbaijan. “We hadn’t handed them [flags], this was the people’s emotions, acceptance and tribute to Pakistan.”
He also addressed the recent restriction by the United Nations for its employees against travelling aboard any Pakistani airline and said it was a “temporary measure, not a permanent one” and the issue will soon be resolved. “We are sad and we are pained that these inadequacies were present in our system […] and because of that our airlines and genuine pilots faced difficulties.”