Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday said he is hopeful that a day will come when his country will be able to engage with India diplomatically as well as economically. “Aaj nahin to kal, that day will have to come. That day we will unlock our full economic potential, and all will share the fruit of prosperity,” Zardari said while talking about various steps required to unlock Pakistan’s economic and trade opportunities, including with its various neighbours.
“I hope that day will come in my lifetime, when we are able to resolve the conflicts in our region and that day we will be able to unlock our full growth potential,” he said while talking about numerous conflicts in the neighbourhood of his country. Zardari, however, asserted that Pakistan will never compromise on its national interest whenever it engages with any other country diplomatically or economically. He also said that the only way to resolve the Ukraine crisis is through dialogue and diplomacy. He was speaking at the annual Pakistan Breakfast session in Davos, organised by Pathfinder Group and Martin Dow Group on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022.
“This is a time when humanity is facing not one but many existential crises, be it Covid-19 pandemic, climate change or numerous conflicts,” he said.”Do we want to be known in history as someone who resolved existential crises and conflicts through dialogue or someone who created more conflicts? “Resolving conflicts is in the interest of not smaller countries like ours, but also of larger nations and everyone,” he added.He said that while Pakistan empathises and sympathises with people in Ukraine, “we strongly believe this conflict has to be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue”.Zardari said Pakistan is also facing severe economic consequences of various conflicts.”Should we continue fighting the same old fights again and again or should we aspire to be known as a country of modern Muslims and have a prosperous future?” he added.
The minister said the best way forward on domestic and international levels is to leave aside political bickerings on the sidelines and explore and unlock the huge untapped potential Pakistan has got. “We can demonstrate domestically and internationally that Pakistan is a functioning state who is willing to help itself, and then the international community will also understand our potential and help us grow further,” he said.
Zardari said Pakistan has China, India, Iran and Afghanistan as its neighbours. “We have not been able to maximise our trade with China. Our relations with India have obviously been not moving forward, but one day we will get to the position where international institutions will come to ensure the international order.”Definitely, there will be a day when we will be able to engage with our neighbour to the east, not just diplomatically but also economically,” he said.
Regarding Afghanistan, he said that he was not in a great hurry to recognise the new Taliban regime but “I’m in hurry to see that the people there get out of despair and Afghanistan gets out of the economic catastrophe it has got into”.”We need, first and foremost, to tackle the humanitarian crisis and economic crisis there and I as foreign minister of Pakistan will do everything I can do to ensure that.”We want the decision on freezing or funds of Afghans to be reconsidered. The girls and women of Afghanistan have the right to get education and work and contribute to their economy,” Zardari said. Further, the minister said, “We in Pakistan, Muslims of Pakistan, have seen a woman being elected as prime minister more than once and we expect the Afghan women to also get the respect they deserve”.