Six-nation maiden Speakers’ Conference kicks off in Islamabad

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Six-nation maiden Speakers’ Conference

ISLAMABAD: The six-nation first Speakers Conference with the theme of “Challenges of terrorism and inter-regional connectivity” has commenced in Islamabad on Sunday.
Speakers of regional stakeholders including Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Russian Federation and Turkey are participating in the conference along with their respective parliamentary delegations.
The conference is intended to enable the participating countries to engage in meaningful discussions to explore common means of combating terrorism, maintaining peace and enhancing connectivity of people and states.
Addressing the opening session of the conference, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani lashed out at the United States for its recent comments about Pakistan.
He said that Pakistan was an independent and sovereign state and was not used to being put on notice by any country.
“The US has ignored Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism,” he said, adding that the United States was putting the blame of its failures in Afghanistan on Pakistan’s shoulders.
The US received a befitting response to its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the UN General Assembly, Rabbani added.
The Senate Chairman said a new nexus among the United States, Israel and India had emerged and the US was trying to promote India as policeman of the region.
He said Pakistan believed in dialogue and friendly relations with its neighbours and unless India talks to Pakistan on the basis of sovereign equality, the dream of peace would remain a mirage.
Speaking on the occasion, Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq said the participants of the conference rejected terrorism in every form.
“Non-state actors have dealt a blow to protection of national borders and sovereignty of nations,” he lamented.
He also pointed out that Pakistan had suffered losses of $120 billion due to the menace of terrorism, and over 0.2 million people had lost their lives to terrorism over the past decade.
He also regretted that the recent decision of the US to move its embassy to Jerusalem would undermine peace in the region.
He said it was for the first time that parliamentary heads of six nations had gathered to re-affirm their commitment to shared peace, prosperity and forge new grounds of mutual cooperation.
He said it was a defining moment that chosen representatives of people of these countries were sitting together to reflect aspirations of their people to live side by side in respect, trust and friendship.
The NA speaker pointed out that the six countries are natural allies because of geographical proximity, shared history and cultural affinities.
He said China, Russia and Iran were among top nations of the world with largest deposits of natural resources.
He said, “China and Pakistan alone provide half of the world’s cotton. Untapped resources of Afghanistan can make it the richest mining region of the world and the construction industry places Turkey among the top ranking countries in the field”.
President Mamnoon Hussain also addressed the conference and said Pakistan was dragged into the war against terrorism following the 9/11 incident.
The head of the state said the unresolved Kashmir dispute had put the entire subcontinent’s peace at stake.
The president further said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was near completion and the One Belt One Road initiative would transform regional connectivity.
The future of the region is deeply linked to active linkages, increased mutual trade and intensive cooperation, he said, and invited all states of the region to join the project.
President Mamnoon added that the dream of strong economic cooperation remained intrinsically linked to regional peace and peaceful co-existence.
He said it was with this spirit that Pakistan had extended sincere and unconditional cooperation for peace and stability in Afghanistan in the past.

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