Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated that his country is fighting terrorism in the interest of regional peace.
Sharif was speaking at the BRICS summit in the city of Ufa, Russia, and took the opportunity to address the issue of the Pakistan’s ongoing struggle against terrorism.
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Greater implications of the war on terror
“Pakistan’s fight against terrorism, including the military operation (Zarb-e-Azb), is not merely for the protection of Pakistan but it is equally critical for the whole region as well as international community,” Sharif said.
Despite human and economic sacrifices in the struggle against terrorist groups, the Prime Minister reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to eradicating extremism and terrorism. “We remain absolutely determined to take this campaign to its logical conclusion in order to achieve our objective of a peaceful and prosperous region,” he said.
Sharif has a number of suggestions which he believes will aid the BRICS countries to improve conditions for their populations.
“One, promote mutual understanding, cooperation and goodwill through cultural and academic interaction as well as people to people to contact,” he said. “Two, to promote confidence, confidence building in peace and security is an essential element for shared prosperity.”
Pakistan and India to join Shanghai Cooperation Organization
His third suggestion aims to improve trade and to “introduce cohesive laws, reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers, and ease the movement of people and the merchandise across the border.”
“Four, promote connectivity by investing in regional infrastructure that is investment in better transport networks including roads, motorways, railways and air and sea links,” Sharif continued.
The entrance of Pakistan into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization marks an important step for the country, and Sharif thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for his kindness. “We are grateful to our host, President Vladimir Putin and the government of the Russian Federation, for bringing SCO and BRICS member community together under one roof. This would go a long way in promoting inclusive and synergetic approach to economic development,” he said.
The Pakistani premier then called on attendees to demonstrate their commitment to regional peace and development by working together towards common goals.
“Pakistan’s economic growth has remained steady. We have unveiled “Vision-2025?, to provide a solid platform for the revival of sustainable and inclusive growth. The potential growth sectors such as infrastructure, power and natural resources, are open to large scale investments,” he said. Plans include improvements to transportation infrastructure in order to facilitate trade.
Series of meetings planned over two day trip
Sharif made the speech shortly after his arrival in Ufa, where he will spend two days meeting with various foreign politicians, including the Presidents of Russia, China and Afghanistan. However perhaps the most interesting meeting will be the one with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Tensions have been rising between the two historic enemies, and Modi suggested that he and Sharif meet in order to assess the current state of affairs.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Office said, “Pakistan has responded positively to a suggestion from the other side for a meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the summit.”
The spokesperson went on to reiterate the official policy of encouraging close diplomatic ties with other countries in the region, including India. “It is in the pursuit of this objective that the prime minister would be meeting the Indian premier for a comprehensive exchange on all issues of common interest.”
Officials blame Modi administration for rising tensions
Relations between the two nations have deteriorated for a variety of reasons, including inflammatory comments made by Modi himself regarding India’s role in the Bangladeshi struggle for independence from Pakistan. His comments inflamed the delicate situation, which has also been made worse by Pakistan’s warm relationship with China.
China is set to invest $46 billion in an economic corridor which runs through Pakistan. Part of the corridor runs through the disputed Pakistani territory of Kashmir, much to the annoyance of India. Sharif said that the project is currently on track.
There are also signs of closer military cooperation between Islamabad and Beijing. Last week a Chinese submarine docked in Karachi, stoking rumors that China was preparing to sell advanced vessels to Pakistan.
According to the Foreign Office spokesman, the two prime ministers will discuss the current security situation, and attempt to reach an agreement on how to engage each other productively. Another Pakistani official claimed that Islamabad does not have high hopes of progress being made given the previous record of the Modi government.