ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani on Thursday refuted the speculation being rife about possible rollback of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) following growing Pakistan-US relations, saying “there is absolutely no question of it being rolled back.”
Briefing media persons after returning from New York where he accompanied caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar to represent Pakistan at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, Jilani also elaborated on the details of the trip to the UN Headquarters and the engagements held by Pakistan’s delegation during the visit.
Responding to a question about speculation being rife that Pakistan may roll back the CPEC project following growing relations with the US, the caretaker foreign minister stated that CPEC is a “very important” transformational project for Pakistan.
“There is absolutely no question of it [CPEC] being rolled back,” he stated in categorical terms. As a matter of fact, we have entered into the second phase of the CPEC which will involve a lot of things, including upgradation of railways, upgradation of agriculture, technical cooperation, collaboration in information technology and many other areas, he added.
“I’m 100 percent sure that in coming years, you will only see further advancement in CPEC and there is no need to cast any doubt in this regard,” Jilani further asserted.
To another question about Pakistan’s policy with regard to Israel following certain Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia are set to go on normalisation with the Jewish state, the caretaker foreign minister empathetically stated that Pakistan’s stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict has “absolutely not changed and it will remain the same as it was in the past.”
“There is no change in our policy regarding Israel. Our policy is linked to the rights of the Palestinian people. Our response to these questions is very clear and whenever we take any decision on such an issue, we keep our national interest at the top. Currently, there is no thinking [of recognition] of Israel in Pakistan,” he added.
Jilani stated that both he and the caretaker prime minister had clarified this in their speeches at the UNGA, adding that Palestinians must be given independent state status like that of pre-1967 with Al-Quds Sharif as the capital of Palestine.
When asked what is Pakistan’s national interest with regard to Israel, he explained that Pakistan’s stance with regard to the right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir is similar to the people of Palestine.
“That becomes part of our national interest,” he added.
The caretaker foreign minister also stated that two delegations – one from the Middle East and another by Pakistan-US businessmen – are coming in the next few days for discussions with regard to investment under the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).
He added that around two dozen MoUs with different countries are expected to be signed within the next few days. He said that during his interactions with the foreign delegates including the business community on the sidelines of the UNGA session in New York, the response about the SIFC was “very positive.”
He said a delegation of the Pakistan-US businessmen is expected next month which is also the outcome of the SIFC’s establishment as well as the positive indicators of Pakistan’s economy.
He said SIFC is focused on the promotion of agriculture, IT and mining, adding that Pakistan is trying to enhance its IT exports to $ 10 billion.
To another question about Pakistan’s recent purchases of Russian oil, he said that these deals do not break any international law.
“Pakistan has not really done anything which is different from other countries. I don’t think Pakistan by purchasing these items from Russia has violated any sanction law or any international law,” he said, adding that many other countries are also trading with Russia and Pakistan has not done anything which is not in line with the terms of Russia’s trading with other countries.
He also stated that the government wanted to remove all obstacles to the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline and dialogue in this connection is under way.
Asked whether Afghanistan has shared any information with Pakistan with regard to the reported arrests of some 200 TTP militants, Jilani confirmed that recently the interim Afghan authorities have shared the information. However, he did not elaborate on the details of these arrests.
To another query as to whether Pakistan will seek the handing over of the arrested militants, he stated: “If these [arrested] are Afghan nationals, then obviously we will not seek their handing over rather they should be punished as per the law.”
He said that Pakistan has concerns regarding the cross-border terrorism from Afghanistan, adding that the relevant authorities are engaged with their Afghan counterparts on the matter.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023