COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said his vision for South Asia was a dispute-free zone where all the nations jointly fought against their common enemies of illiteracy, poverty and malnutrition.
“The South Asia needs strategic stability. We should build convergences and need dialogue for the better of region,” the Prime Minister said in a lecture delivered on the special invitation of Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies in Colombo.
Addressing a gathering of intellectuals, parliamentarians and diplomats on the topic ‘Pakistan-Sri Lanka Relations,’ he said it was time for South Asian countries to focus their energies on better preparing themselves to handle the global challenges.
Nawaz Sharif said `cooperation not confrontation’ was his government’s policy and he believed in promoting harmony with all South Asian countries.
He mentioned that he took initiative in normalization of relations with India and flew to New Delhi to attend the inauguration ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Besides, he said at the UN General Assembly forum, he floated a four-point feasible agenda for the restoration of peaceful relations between Pakistan and India.
Nawaz Sharif recalled that he was also deeply touched by Modi’s decision to fly to Lahore last month on his way back from Afghanistan and in next few days, the foreign secretaries of two countries would meet in Islamabad.
About Afghanistan, he said Pakistan believed that a peaceful Afghanistan was in its interest and termed terrorism a common enemy of both countries.
He said Pakistan has consistently been supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned government and was ready for continued support for resumption of peace dialogue between the Afghan government and Taliban.
The prime minister said his government was implementing the true spirit of democracy and had devised a comprehensive development programme of `Four Es’ – promoting Education, eliminating Extremism, overcoming Energy shortage and strengthening Economy.
He emphasized that all strategies were being pursued with due fairness and transparency.
He said Pakistan was waging a comprehensive war against terrorism that included striking at sanctuaries and hideouts of terrorists in tribal areas.
He mentioned that through intelligence-based information, his government had struck a strong blow to the sleeper cells of militants and the operation was in final stage being carried out by the country’s valiant forces.
Nawaz Sharif said success in restoration of peace was not possible without the resolve of nation and its continued resilience.
He said radicalization and global terrorism could not be eliminated until its root cause was addressed.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan and Sri Lanka enjoyed special and deep-rooted relations based on several commonalities.
He said the people of Sri Lanka were close to the heart of people of Pakistan and appreciated the support extended by Sri Lanka to Pakistan at regional and international fora.
The prime minister highlighted the steps taken by his government including economic reforms that resulted in increase of GDP and tax revenues, and reduction in inflation and budget deficit.
He mentioned that leading international publication, fund managers and rating agencies including Bloomberg and Moody’s had given positive assessments about Pakistan’s economy.
Nawaz Sharif highlighted the focus of his government on regional and international connectivity and mentioned the recently launched China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which included a multiple package of development projects worth 46 billion dollar.
He said Pakistan would soon turn into a strategic gateway of regional economy.
He mentioned that Pakistan was also promoting other regional energy and connectivity projects including the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, Central Asia South Asia (CASA 1000), and the Torkham-Jalalabad Road in Afghanistan.
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangla Samaraweera highlighted the level of close collaboration between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in diverse fields.