Accord with Switzerland to share Pakistanis' bank data will bring transparency: Qureshi

Published December 13, 2019
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaks to reporters in Multan on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaks to reporters in Multan on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday said that an agreement under which Switzerland will share financial information of Pakistanis with Islamabad will bring transparency in the shifting of money to foreign destinations.

Speaking to reporters in his native Multan at a wide-ranging press conference, the minister said the government welcomes the accord under which Switzerland has agreed to provide "several kinds of information" to Pakistan.

Qureshi said there is nothing wrong if somebody has shifted wealth abroad that was earned from legitimate sources, as long as they can show the money trail for it and it has been moved abroad through official banking channels and not through money laundering.

Read: Govt believes $11 billion stashed abroad by Pakistanis

"If they (Switzerland) share information with us it will improve Pakistan's accountability process and a hurdle will be created in corruption's path in the country," he added.

The Swiss parliament had earlier this week approved the automatic exchange of bank data with 18 additional countries, including Pakistan, starting from 2021, Swissinfo.ch reported.

Under the automatic exchange of financial information (AEOI), Swiss authorities will provide details of bank accounts held by other partner countries' citizens. In return, Switzerland will receive banking information of accounts held by Swiss citizens or residents in those countries, the publication reported.

Besides Pakistan, the other 17 countries added to the mechanism included Albania, Azerbaijan, Brunei, Dominica, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Macau, Maldives, Nigeria, Niue, Oman, Peru, Samoa, Saint Martin, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu.

'Pakistan's role regarding Afghanistan being acknowledged'

Qureshi, who was holding the press conference after attending the 8th ministerial meeting of the 'Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process' in Turkey, said that there was a "complete consensus" at the gathering that there is no military solution to the Afghanistan conflict and a negotiated political settlement is the only way to restore stability there.

He said Pakistan is facilitating the Afghan peace process in whatever way it can and its role has been acknowledged by the world.

The minister said he had told United States Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Alice Wells in Istanbul that Pakistan will welcome an increase in bilateral trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan because it will benefit both the countries.

He said Pakistan had not interfered in this year's Afghan presidential elections and instead facilitated them by keeping the border crossing points with Afghanistan open and by deciding to keep the Torkham border open 24/7.

If the ongoing peace talks lead to an agreement between the US and Taliban, an intra-Afghan dialogue will be important to take the reconciliation process forward and Pakistan is supporting the same, Qureshi said.

According to the minister, Pakistan has chosen not to react to unwarranted criticisms and "knee-jerk reactions" by Afghanistan "in the larger interest". "We maintain silence despite having the answers to many questions because we want to see peace and stability [in Afghanistan]," he said.

'Lawyers-doctors conflict should end'

Speaking about the violence that took place at Lahore's Punjab Institute of Cardiology during a protest by lawyers on Wednesday, the foreign minister said both the lawyers and doctors are important communities without whom the society cannot function.

He said the Lahore incident has shocked every Pakistani and that there was a need to adopt the legal course if any side had committed excesses.

The government wants to see the conflict end gracefully because it is affecting the common man, Qureshi added.

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