ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the launching ceremony of Hunarmand Pakistan Programme on Thursday.—PPI
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the launching ceremony of Hunarmand Pakistan Programme on Thursday.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: Offering mediation between the United States and Iran again, Prime Minister Imran Khan declared on Thursday that Pakistan would not become part of anyone else’s war but would try to resolve differences between warring states.

“Pakistan will not become a part of any war because we had committed mistakes in the past by taking part in the wars of others,” the prime minister said while inaugurating a skills development programme called “Hunarmand”.

“Today I want to present my foreign policy that we are not going to repeat our mistakes of getting involved in others’ wars. Pakistan will become a country which will make peace among states,” he added.

He said Pakistan would try its best to resolve confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as between Iran and the US. “We will try to restore friendly ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia. I have also offered to US President Donald Trump that Pakistan is ready to mediate between Iran and the US to resolve differences between them,” the prime minister said.

“Nobody emerges victorious from wars. Even the winner is a loser. Pakistan had paid a high price in the past by becoming a part in the war on terror,” he said, adding: “Now Pakistan will not fight wars but will bring countries together.”

Imran inaugurates skills development programme ‘Hunarmand’; PML-N says it’s actually same scheme launched by Nawaz Sharif

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi revealed during a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday that Prime Minster Khan would visit Malaysia next month.

The prime minister had cancelled his scheduled visit to Malaysia where he had to attend the Kuala Lumpur summit held from Dec 18 to 21 last year amid media reports that he did it under pressure from Saudi Arabia, which denied it.

Prime Minister Khan said the Hunarmand programme would put Pakistan on road to success. “There are ups and downs in life and smart people make sure that they use the time when they are in difficulty to propel themselves towards success later,” he said, adding that the government was actively working to revive dormant industries and equip the youth with modern skills.

“We have allocated Rs10 billion for imparting training to 500,000 youths and a total 175,000 youngsters will be skilled under the programme. One thing that I am very proud of is that the first 70 skill centres will be in Madressahs so that 2.5 million children who have always been neglected could be able to acquire skills that will help them step up in the real world,” he added.

Mr Khan said in the next phase, 300 smart training centres would be set up, where students would have access to international teachers so that the country could achieve global standards. “All of these skill centres will have national accreditation to ensure that there is a healthy competition among the students and they all strive to better themselves,” he added.

The prime minister said more money would be allocated for this programme in future and it would be ensured that the Pakistani youth had the skills required to work hard and secure their better future. He congratulated federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood on coming up with an extensive skills programme for the country.

“We have started our flagship programme Ehsaas under which we have allocated Rs7 billion for the Utility Stores network to ensure that people are given quality rations in affordable prices. We also develop a network of Langar Khanas [soup kitchens] to ensure that no one in this country goes hungry; Panagahs [shelter homes] were established last year to ensure that people do not have to brave extreme weathers and live on the street,” he added.

The biggest scheme of the government for the poor, he said, was “Sehat Insaf Card” that provided medical coverage of over Rs700,000 to poor families. Under Apna Ghar programme, he added, the government was providing the common man the opportunity to own a house.

The Rs30bn four-year Hunarmand programme will provide easy loans, capacity building and internships to the youth.

‘It’s a PML-N programme’

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) claimed that Hunarmand was actually a programme that was launched by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. “It is actually the prime minister’s youth programme which Nawaz Sharif had inaugurated in 2013,” PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a statement.

She said the unemployment under Imran Khan’s rule had broken all records. “Speeches don’t bring happiness and jobs nor does it reduce inflation. The mentally bankrupt and practically incapacitated Imran-led ‘PTI mafia’ does not have any answer to the plight of Pakistanis,” she added.

“Renaming and rebranding PMLN’s project and inaugurating it with his name plaque will not change the fact that Imran Khan is the most incompetent, unqualified, inept and lying prime minister to have ever taken office in Pakistan,” she said, adding: “Nawaz Sharif’s youth programme was exactly the same. It provided the youth an opportunity to have skill development, business, small and medium enterprise, vocational training, laptop scheme, scholarships and internship programmes.”

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2020