| GEO Pakistan|
| Pak has no other choice but anti-terror war, says FM|
| Updated at: 1908 PST, Tuesday, June 23, 2009|
MULTAN: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said here on Tuesday that the world is now eager to extend more economic assistance to Pakistan, instead of asking it to “Do more” in war against terrorism.
Talking to media persons at the local airport, he said that at the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Russia, President Asif Ali Zardari and he himself held very useful talks with the leadership of several countries including Russia, Tajikistan and India.
He said President Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had one‑on‑one parleys and agreed to restart the composite dialogue, suspended following the Mumbai blasts.
He said both the countries were discussing the dates for resuming the foreign secretary level talks.
The foreign minister said that the summit level engagements in Russia and Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union, were very fruitful and the world is convinced that Pakistan is fighting against the terrorists effectively but needs financial assistance.
He said the European Union has committed $ 170 million assistance for relief and rehabilitation of the two million plus internally‑displaced persons (IDPs).
Foreign minister said such international engagements have enabled Pakistan to make the world realize and understand our difficulties as well as our economic needs.
The foreign minister said President Asif Ali Zardari, on the invitation of his Tajik counterpart, will visit Tajikistan on July 28, adding that this would further strengthen the ties between the two countries.
He said this engagement will be trilateral as Russia would also participate the talks, adding, “Russia also wants to help us in the war against terrorism”.
For the first time at Brussels (Belgium) summit level talks took place and Pakistan very successfully convinced the EU about its point of view. Before this only ministerial level talks were held between NATO and Islamabad, he highlighted.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in September the next meeting of the “Friends of Democratic Pakistan” forum are scheduled to take place in Turkey and more assistance is expected from it.
He said the world community agrees with Pakistan’s viewpoint that terrorism is a regional issue. He said not only Afghanistan and India have fallen prey to it, but Pakistan too has suffered immensely and is still suffering on this count.
Foreign Minister said at Sharm Al‑Sheikh the next Non‑Aligned Movement (NAM) summit will be held and on this summit’s sidelines Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani would discuss with his Indian counterpart, the irritants and promote bilateralism.
Replying to a question, the FM said President Zardari had also taken up the riverine water issue with the Indian PM at SCO summit. “The water issue may get serious in the coming times,” he remarked.
The foreign minister in this context stated that all the coalition partners of PPP are satisfied with the incumbent dispensation as none of them has demanded snap polls in the country.
He lauded the role of the media in propping up political parties’ struggle for the revival of democracy. He said all institutions are in favour of completion of the term by the incumbent elected governments here.
Responding to a question about the source of weapons and resources of the terrorists, he said that the issue was taken up in the bilateral, trilateral and multilateral talks. He said it was the focal point.
About the arrest of a Pakistani family in Saudi Arabia in a drug case, he said the matter was being investigated and taken up at a high‑level between the two governments so that only the guilty is punished.
To a question, about the proposal of carving out small provinces and Saraiki province, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the PPP might discuss the proposal if any member or members raise it in the party meeting, adding that then it can be tabled in the Parliament as a constitutional amendment which can be passed with the two‑thirds majority. He said the matter was not that simple.
Responding to another query, he said that as per vision of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto President Asif Ali Zardari, the PPP co‑chairman, favours the repeal of 17th Constitutional amendment.
About the progress in the investigations into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, he said that the United Nations has completed its probe commission which will start work in July and would finish it in six months.
Congratulating the nation and the cricket team, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said entire nation is proud of our cricket team’s huge success in the Twenty‑20 world cup. He praised the team’s attribution of this cup to the martyrs of the Pakistan Army officers and Jawans in the ongoing war against terrorists.
To another question, Foreign Minister said the UN had estimated that Pakistan needed a sum of $ 544 million for the relief of IDPs. He said the US has offered $ 330 million aid while some other friends have also promised more assistance.
He said given the ongoing world economic recession the aid being extended is praiseworthy. Growth has contracted and unemployment has plagued even the developed world, he said. “Our efforts and our national resolve to combat terrorism have been duly acknowledged by the comity of nations”.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that if the operation against terrorists would prolong more economic help will be required to cope with the situation. He added that if it is resolved within a short span of time the committed help may suffice.
He said after the menace is cured and the operation ends the gigantic task of IDPs’ rehabilitation and reconstruction would begin for which Pakistan would expect generous funding and grants from our friends all over the world.
To a question that Pakistan is suffering loss of $ 8.5 billion per annum on account of war against terrorism as stated by finance advisor Shaukat Tareen, he said the loss is enormous indeed and the world should come forward to share this huge burden.
To a query about situation in Iran, he said it was Iran’s internal affair and our relations with this neighbouring country have taken a stride. He said this may be gauged from the Iran‑Pakistan gas pipeline project. He said inter‑action between the leadership of the two brotherly countries has been very useful for both nations.
To another question about “any change” in the PM house, he said it was just a speculation and no patriot would like any sort of instability as we are in the state of war with terrorists.
He said if Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif have gone to Qatar they can go anywhere and nobody should take it as a prelude to any political change in Pakistan.
The Foreign Minister categorically said that nobody is talking of mid‑term polls as the nation cannot afford any such thing at this juncture.