Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the International Conference on Margalla Dialogue on Thursday.—PPI
Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the International Conference on Margalla Dialogue on Thursday.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for regional peace and stressed that friendly relations between India and Pakistan are vital for peace in South Asia.

“Rather than fighting each other, together we [Pakistan and India] can fight poverty, challenges of climate change and hunger,” the prime minister said while addressing the concluding session of Margalla Dialogue 2019 on “Peace and development in South Asia, Middle East and Central Asia” on Thursday.

Referring to Iran-Saudi Arabia and Iran-US conflicts, the prime minister said Pakistan would not fight the war of any other country.

He warned the international community that a very serious situation was developing in the region because of India and said: “This is the time that the international community should step in; otherwise the consequences will affect the entire world.”

Pak-India friendly ties termed vital for regional peace

He said India was in the “hands of extremist ideologists and racists” who were promoting the “ideology of hate” in the South Asian region. “No one knows where India is heading now. People are scared. Media has been scared into submission. This will lead to destruction and India will suffer,” he added.

The prime minister said that due to India’s ideology of hate and the Kashmir issue Pakistan was also not out of the danger zone. “[Indian PM Narendra] Modi is in a blind alley. People of Kashmir are living in curfew for the last 100 days, human rights have been abused and civil liberties have been taken away. Muslim leadership has been put in jail and young people are being picked up in the dead of night,” he regretted.

Prime Minister Khan said Pakistan would no more join any alliance for any other country’s war rather play the role of a “reconciliator or bridge-builder”. “Pakistan has learned lessons from its foreign policy of last four decades and we will not fight someone else’s war,” he added.

He recalled that Pakistan had suffered immensely being a frontline state during the Afghan jihad of 1980s and the US war on terror following the 9/11 incident. He said that though the foreign funding flowed into Pakistan during these wars, the cost paid in shape of disaster in society was much higher. “The impact on society is yet to analyse the gravity of negativity these wars inflicted upon Pakistan,” he said. “For this reason, we have now decided to play the role of bridge-builders and reconciliators.”

About the foreign policy of two major world powers, the prime minister said China’s focus on infrastructure development had a superior standing as compared to the United States which spent trillions of dollars on wars against other countries.

Mr Khan said Pakistan was heading towards the path of progress by taking corrective measures, including introduction of ease-of-doing-business mechanism and promotion of tourism and sports in the country.

The two-day dialogue organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) gathered security and political experts from 13 countries to discuss scenario of current challenges in the region. During the four sessions, the experts deliberated on different regional and current issues, including Kashmir dispute, Afghan conflict, Middle East situation, Pakistan’s role in geopolitical situation, cyber security, climate change and water security.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019