ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi has said that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s policies based upon fostering good ties with India were well known and hoped that very soon a meeting at the foreign sectaries’ level would take place, paving way for the beginning of formal dialogue.
“There is nothing hidden about it. He (Prime Minister) publicly says he wants good relations with India and this has been his belief for many years,” he said in an interview with the Global Times (GT), Beijing during his recent three-day visit to China.
Responding to a question, Fatemi said that whenever Prime Minister Sharif came into power, he reached out to the Indian leadership and tried to initiate a dialogue process.
“The important thing is that if there is even the slightest hint of an interest in cooperative relations coming out of India, we are ready to respond,” the daily quoted the SAPM on Foreign Affairs.
“Neither country can afford a relationship of tension and hostility,” he added.
To a query regarding peace process in Afghanistan, he said both Pakistan and China as neighbours of Afghanistan were all interested in peace and stability of the entire region.
China had always been a powerful factor in promoting peace and stability in the region, Fatemi added.
He stressed that they had to sit down and determined how the peace ad reconciliation process in Afghanistan could be further promoted after US and NATO forces drawdawn.
He said they had told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that he was the legitimate elected head of the state of Afghanistan and he along with his team had to determine what initiative they wanted to take, so any proposal for regional peace and stability should be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led.
“As neighbours and friends of Afghanistan, we are willing and ready to play a supporting role. Ghani has to lead the way and we are there to provide the necessary support and assistance,” he added.
He said in the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad, it was decided that peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan should be promoted and assisted by the quadrilateral consultative group.
About the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Special Assistant to PM said that it was a part of the vision of “One Belt, One Road” that was presented by President Xi Jinping to his nation.
He said that it would not only bring prosperity to Pakistan, but also benefit the entire region.
The project included three major areas of activity, one related to energy projects, the second to infrastructure projects, and the third belonged to the Gwadar Port. He said out of current total package of about $46 billion, $35 billion were envisaged for energy projects, in which Chinese companies would collaborate with Pakistani companies to set up power plants, because power shortage was the biggest challenge that Pakistan faced.
The other $11 billion would be loans extended by Chinese financial institutions, he added.
About Gwadar port, Fatemi said the location of Gwadar made it an ideal port for all-weather operation as it sat at the mouth of the Gulf.
“The port is also ideally suited for both entry and exit of items that are of interest to Pakistan, to China and to the entire region,” he added.
He said China and Pakistan would jointly build an international airport in Gwadar.
He said Pakistan was creating a special force of roughly 10,000 highly trained people who would provide the necessary safety and security to the Chinese.
To another question, he said that geographical location, political orientation, economic linkages and cultural and historic ties all led to the conclusion that Pakistan deserved to be a member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).