MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says the statement of US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Alice Wells will not affect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Pakistan rejects her apprehensions.

Talking to journalists on Sunday, the minister said Pakistan did not think that CPEC would add to its debt burden.

“It could be theirs (Americans) point of view but we do not agree with it. Total debt burden of Pakistan is $74 billion and the impact of CPEC is hardly $4.9 billion. Then how could they say that it will sharply increase Pakistan’s debt servicing,” he said.

Mr Qureshi said work on the ongoing CPEC projects would continue while phase 2 of the mega project had also been initiated. “CPEC is vital for our economic progress. It’s a game changer and playing an important role in the socioeconomic progress of Pakistan.”

The foreign minister said that US or other countries interested in investing in special economic zones of the CPEC were welcome.

Qureshi says resolution moved in US Congress on Kashmir contains all the demands made by Pakistan

Some other ministers as well as the opposition leader also rejected the US concerns.

PM’s Adviser on Commerce Razak Daud said every country had the right to make decisions according to its interests and there was no second opinion on the CPEC’s importance.

In her multiple tweets on Sunday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan rejected the American concerns over the project

“This great corridor will open new paths of economic development and prosperity in the entire region, not just for Pakistan and China.”

PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, in his message from London, also dismissed the US apprehensions as incorrect.

Besides, the foreign minister, while talking about the Kashmir issue, said a resolution had been moved in the US Congress in connection with the long-standing dispute and all the demands that the Pakistan has been making since long were included in the resolution.

He said the Jammu and Kashmir’s situation was analysed in a meeting of the Kashmir Cell at the Foreign Office and different stakeholders, including Kashmir Committee Chairman Fakhar Imam, participated in the meeting.

The minister said another meeting would be held soon in which some recommendations would be presented. Prime Minister Imran Khan would chair the meeting.

The foreign minister maintained that they would invite opposition parties to the meeting as all political parties had unanimous stance on the issue. “There will be engagements at diplomatic, legal and political fronts in future.”

He said Pakistan had recorded a strong protest over the desecration of Holy Quran by summoning the Norway ambassador to the Foreign Office while Pakistani ambassador in Norway had been directed to record his protest with the foreign office of Norway.

APP adds: In reply to a question regarding the shifting of the cases of former president Asif Ali Zardari to Karachi from Rawalpindi, the foreign minister said that the Sindh government was creating hurdles in the process of accountability.

Mr Qureshi said the process of transparent accountability would continue in the country.

He said no one wanted to face accountability process, and whenever people were held accountable, they attempted to create hindrances in the way of the accountability process.

To another question about former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s health and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement about that, the minister said he could not comment on the issue, adding the health ministry could better answer it.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2019