MULTAN: The government is not reluctant to take action against those involved in the sugar scandal as it is the first dispensation which has made an inquiry report on the matter public, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Sunday.
“The prime minister has stated that those responsible for the crisis will be held accountable,” Mr Qureshi said while speaking to journalists after visiting Saint Mary’s Church.
The foreign minister said those who had paid low prices to farmers for sugarcane and sold sugar at high prices would not be spared. The Federal Investigation Agency and the Federal Board of Revenue would take action against wrongdoers without discrimination, he added.
He said all non-Muslim groups would get representation in the National Commission for Minorities. By appointing well-known businessman Chela Ram Kewlani as chairman of the commission, Pakistan had sent a message to the world that the minorities and their places of worship were safe and they enjoyed all rights and freedom, the foreign minister observed.
Qureshi says provinces’ cooperation needed to bring back Pakistanis stranded abroad
“India, on the other hand, demolished the Babri Mosque and exposed its fanaticism before the world. The Indian Supreme Court acted like a helpless spectator while the demolition was being carried out. It is a matter of pride for Pakistani Muslims that churches in Pakistan are functioning and we are protecting them,” he said.
“We are grateful to the minorities, especially the Hindu community, for opting to live in Pakistan. The PTI government has opened the Kartarpur border crossing to convey a message of harmony to the Sikh community.”
Mr Qureshi pointed out that today even Bangladesh and Nepal were raising their voice against India. “China offered to hold negotiations with India to resolve the boundary dispute, but the latter rejected the offer.”
The foreign minister said the minorities were not safe in India. “India is targeting its minorities, particularly Muslims, through the Citizenship Act. The mentality of RSS stands exposed before the world. Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid is locked and places of worship for Muslims in India are not safe either,” he added.
“We highlighted the plight of Indian Muslims at the summit for human rights and democracy in Geneva and wrote a letter to the United Nations as well.
“Calls should be made at international forums for an end to discrimination against Indian Muslims as the country’s constitution safeguards the rights of minorities. My request to the Indian government is that it should follow its constitution just as Pakistan is doing,” the foreign minister said.
About the coronavirus crisis, he said the government wanted to create a consensus, but the opposition kept embarrassing it instead of giving any suggestion.
“I will request the opposition to come up with suggestions regarding handling of the epidemic in parliament and the prime minister will study their ideas.”
He said the Centre needed the provinces’ cooperation to bring back the Pakistanis stranded in various countries.
Mr Qureshi said since the country’s economy had been badly affected by Covid-19, the nation should brace itself for tough times ahead. “The budget will reflect the setbacks wrought by the pandemic, but we are making efforts to give relief to the low- and middle-income groups.
“The prime minister has already invited applications at his portal from the people who have lost their jobs. The government has distributed billions of rupees among the poor through the Ehsaas Programme,” he said.
About the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Mr Qureshi said both countries were determined to complete the project regardless of India’s or any other power’s disapproval.
He said the credit to make Pakistan a nuclear power did not go to any single person since it was a team effort. “I would like to pay my homage to Pakistani scientists, the army and all those who played their role.
“Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took a decision to make Pakistan a nuclear power in my uncle’s house in Multan,” the minister said.
Later in the day, Shah Mehmood Qureshi met a delegation of the Marriage Halls Association and assured them that he would raise their plea for permission to resume business with the authorities concerned.
Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2020