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Pakistan, EU agree to strategic partnership on trade, investment & more

News Desk |

On Monday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and the European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini addressed a press conference in Islamabad to disclose the details of the strategic partnership the two nations are ready to embark upon. FM Qureshi announced that a strategic engagement plan has been decided upon that will lay down the “architecture for a bright future between Pakistan and the European Union.”

FM Qureshi recognized the contributions of the Pakistanis settled across the European Union who boost the economy with their remittances. He noted, “We have a bridge between us that is generating goodwill and we can build on that further.” FM Qureshi informed of his discussions with EU Foreign Policy Chief on Pakistan’s initiatives with regards to FATF and how Pakistan intends to fulfill its commitments and responsibilities in the international community, and the evolution of the National Action Plan.

Mogherini acknowledged the commitments of the PTI-led government and stressed that the EU has a very strategic partnership with Pakistan that needs to be intensified on the matters of migratory inflows.

Federica Mogherini was briefed on Pakistan’s fight with extremism and terrorism, the achievements made by the Pakistani army in eradicating terrorism from the tribal belt and the status of Pakistani NGOs and creating an atmosphere in which foreign NGOs will feel more welcomed in Pakistan.

Referring to the Afghan peace process, FM Qureshi noted, “We had a very good discussion, and we shared and compared notes on Afghanistan. As you know, the European Union has been a great contributor to Afghanistan’s reform and reconstruction agenda. They also, like us, have a stake in peace and stability in Afghanistan. We shared Pakistan’s perspective and Pakistan’s role in facilitating the peace and reconciliation process”.

FM Qureshi also provided Mogherini with an overview of the PTI-led government’s stance on India. “How open we were, how open we are, in engaging with them to resolve our outstanding issues through a sustained dialogue because that is the only sensible way forward.” He stressed, “We are both convinced that there is no solution to India and Pakistan but to talk and resolve issues through negotiations. Can two atomic neighbors even think of going to war? Its madness and Pakistan has demonstrated restraint and measured response immediately after being aggressed upon; the world is not oblivious to the steps we have taken”.

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FM Qureshi noted that Pakistan’s initiatives for peace, such as the immediate release of the captured Indian pilot, the return of the Pakistani high commissioner and establishing a hot-line between the military counterparts, are acts that have garnered the approval of the international community. FM Qureshi also shared the government’s desire to invite foreigners with relaxed visa regulations and opening up the Kartarpur corridor to resolve disputes with India. FM Qureshi also noted that the two ministers had discussed the Iranian situation, and the importance of Iran being Pakistan’s neighbor and its role in sustaining peace in Afghanistan.

Mogherini thanked the Pakistani government for the warm welcome she received on her maiden visit to Islamabad. She noted, “We agreed on our new strategic engagement plan today that gives us an even more solid foundation for our partnership, expands the areas of cooperation, puts no limits in terms of timing and I’m sure, will constitute a sound architecture for EU-Pakistan relations and cooperation in the years to come”.

Mogherini also expressed her condolences with the families of the Pakistani victims of the NZ terror attacks and regarded Islamophobia as a grave threat for the European Union and the global community at large.

Mogherini noted that the partnership between Pakistan and the European Union are fruitful for both, and EU seeks cooperation with the PTI-led government on poverty alleviation, investment in human capital, education, trade, and fight against corruption. She noted that trade between Pakistan and the European Union has doubled over the years due to the preferential access Pakistan enjoys since 2014.

She informed of her discussions with FM Qureshi on matters related to the promotion of human rights, freedom of religion and beliefs, the situation of women and their role in the Pakistani government. Mogherini acknowledged the commitments of the PTI-led government and stressed that the EU has a very strategic partnership with Pakistan that needs to be intensified on the matters of migratory inflows. She admired Pakistan’s “very generous hosting of Afghan refugees”, and added, “We know it’s a challenge, and you know that you can count on us to support your country in this respect”.

She also noted EU and Pakistan’s support to the Afghan peace talks, “We have discussed ways in which the EU and Pakistan can effectively encourage and accompany a process of talks that could eventually lead to peace in Afghanistan”. She appreciated Pakistan’s efforts of de-escalation in the aftermath of the scuffle with India and pledged European Union’s support in Pakistan’s “crackdown on militants” to maintain stability in Pakistan and the region.

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Mogherini also expressed her condolences with the families of the Pakistani victims of the NZ terror attacks and regarded Islamophobia as a grave threat for the European Union and the global community at large. FM Qureshi informed that now that the two have discussed the details of the strategic partnership between Pakistan and EU, he will soon be heading to Brussels to formally sign the agreement.

Mina Jahangir with additional input by News Desk.